FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 5, 2020
Press Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Sally Lee (email@example.com, 1-646-206-4160)
NYC Teachers, Parents, and Students To March for Police-Free Schools
New York, New York: In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many countless other Black people and people of color killed by the police, teachers, parents, and students in NYC are joining the national movement to defund and dismantle police forces in our city and across the country.
When: Saturday, June 6th, 11am
Where: Marching from United Federation of Teachers headquarters at 52 Broadway, Manhattan towards Department of Education headquarters at 52 Chambers Street, Manhattan
Who: Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), Dignity in Schools Campaign-NY, Teachers Unite, New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE), Sistas & Brothas United, Parent Action Committee, Parents Supporting Parents, Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), Teens Take Charge, BLM at School, Girls for Gender Equity, CUNY Rank and File Action, Peer Connect
The horrific events of recent weeks have shown us that more than six years since the murder of Eric Garner, the police are an institution incapable of reform. Police departments like the NYPD have implemented a range of initiatives in the face of civil disobedience and protest, ranging from body cameras to anti-bias training, unenforceable bans on tactics like chokeholds, community policing programs, and so much more. Nothing has worked. Black people and people of color continued to be brutalized in their communities and gunned down in the street. Officers are still not held accountable. The only way forward is to defund and deprioritize the police and reduce their ability to harm.
We call on the Department of Education to immediately begin implementing a plan to cut all ties to the NYPD, similar to how the Minneapolis School Board ended its relationship with their city’s police force. We also call on the United Federation of Teachers to follow the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union and the Los Angels Teachers union and call for the end of police in schools and the increase of non-punitive youth development supports, such as guidance counselors and social workers.
As educators and parents, we seek to create a city in which our collective resources are devoted to supporting students and helping them to flourish and reach their full potential. We do not see the NYPD as part of that process. School should remain a place for intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Inviting the police force into our schools in any form inhibits that growth. Students should be able to learn without being criminalized.
While billions of city tax dollars fund the NYPD, school communities in NYC are being told to do more with less. The governor and mayor currently want to cut $641 million from our schools next year while the NYPD is set to receive a $5 million dollar increase from the preliminary figures released in January. Under these figures, the loss to education will be 28 times greater than what is cut from policing. Schooling is essential, policing is not. It goes without saying that this disparity is hitting in the context of a pandemic that has caused unprecedented hardship and death to our students’ families, and which has affected communities of color most acutely. Schools need more resources to deal with this, not less.
School Safety Agents (SSAs) employed by the NYPD and working at DOE schools, currently number more than 5,500 (more than the total number of counselors and social workers combined). While they are not armed, do not have the power to arrest, and cannot suspend, they are under the command structure of the NYPD. As a first step in defunding the police, these employees should be brought back into the Department of Education as they were before the Giuliani administration. This shift can open up further discussions about what “safety” should look like in our schools and how we truly implement restorative practices without the presence of the NYPD. While there has been recent progress in limiting the role of uniformed police in schools, we need to push for a total ban.
Finally, we call on school staff and school communities to join us in reimagining a school system that doesn’t teach or carry-out anti-black racism. The demand to disconnect policing from education is in line with past efforts to take seriously the implementation of culturally responsive and sustaining education as well as to engage educators in the Black Lives Matter Week of Action. Marching is just a first step. The real work begins after.