Monday, March 4, 2019

More officers in Worcester schools?

I haven't said anything about Superintendent Binienda's endorsement of a police officer at Claremont Academy in part because Councilor Rivera nailed it on why this is a terrible idea.
Only because I see this being reported incorrectly: note that WPS discipline trended back upwards again last year. 
There is absolutely no question what impact having police in schools has on schools like Worcester's.
Although school policing and other security measures harm many students without increasing safety, they do provide one powerful benefit: making the loudest voices feel safer, according to Mallett. "In suburban, white schools that have had positive relationships with police, parents and teachers feel safer," Mallett says, "and it doesn't affect crime or school shootings in a positive way, but it doesn't make it worse."
However, that feeling of safety doesn't translate to students, even white ones. Schindler notes that research shows that a heavy police presence in schools actually has the effect of making kids feel less safe. "The most important thing is to identify where they feel comfortable behaving with adults, where they can share concerns, and where they can be identified if they need help," he says.
Do note how police officers in Worcester schools largely are funded (I covered this as part of my look at WPS FY19 last year; scroll down): most of the funding is city money spent through the city budget, credited as school funding. That has been over a million dollars a year for several years now. Those funds are never seen by the Worcester School Committee; they just show up on the schools' End of Year report "counted" as school spending. The School Committee could, of course, tell the superintendent this is a bad idea; they could renegotiate the MOU with the city that covers police in schools; what they can't do is spend that money somewhere else.
The city, on the other hand, could take those funds and instead add them to their allocation for the Worcester Public Schools, where they could be used on things actually of use to students in the school system. That might, however, require the city to notice that they'd be funding the schools at a slightly higher margin above the required minimum than they currently are, something, as Scott O'Connell noted during last week's meeting, only four Worcester School Committee members were willing to request.
And Clive McFarlane nails it.

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