Don’t end SRO funding

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Because our national conversation about police accountability rightly focuses on reform across society, including in schools, I understand why Senator Chris Murphy has introduced legislation to end federal funding of police in schools and to devote more money to counselors and health professionals.  There is research-based evidence that black and Latino students are more likely than their white counterparts to have negative interactions with police in school, and it’s widely known that most schools need more mental health services too.

However, of all the lessons we never seem to learn, surely one near the top of the list is that the federal government is awful at making one-size-fits-all school policy. In many schools, the SRO is a valuable and respected member of the staff.  In other schools, I would imagine, not so much.  But in a country that is the least safe in the developed world, with 2600+ mass shootings since Sandy Hook alone, it’s reasonable for many parents to welcome the presence of the SRO.  Whether they prevent shootings or not isn’t clear because research is lacking.

Maybe Senator Murphy should start by proposing more funding for mental health professionals and other resources for students in need, especially for resource-starved metropolitan school districts. And for that matter, he should keep up his work to diminish gun violence in society.  He could also propose new standards for policing in schools. And as crazy it sounds, maybe he should propose taking 1% of the Pentagon budget to give schools the funding and flexibility they need to make choices that work on the local level. To throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water seems silly to me.   Amy Wolfcale