Let’s talk about money. In this year’s budget report, Frederick County Public Schools shared that the county would spend $1.7 million to put police officers in schools through the School Resource Officer (SRO) program.

A few other tidbits from that report: two new mental health professionals were hired, taking up $200,000 of the budget. Three new English learner teachers costs less than that. That is to say, FCPS could hire 12 more mental health professionals or 18 English learner teachers, raise salaries by 30 percent, and still not spend as much as is spent on SROs.

Clearly these officers in our schools must be doing an enormous service to our students if so much money is being spent to put them there, right? Nope. Research has shown the real effect of SROs: an unsafe, fruitless learning environment and increased discrimination for students of color, particularly Black students. Rather than lowering incidents of crime among youth, the presence of cops in schools increases the number of children roped into the juvenile system for having “bad behavior” (talking back, tantrums, being loud). If these students aren’t arrested, exclusionary measures are taken against them like detention.

This phenomenon (the school to prison pipeline) has grave effects on these children’s likelihood of achieving any social mobility, and disproportionately affects already marginalized groups. Because of the internal biases that everyone has, when students of color or otherwise marginalized students misbehave, educators and SRO’s are more likely to see a threat. Statistics show that Black children are far more likely than whites to be arrested in schools. Up to 40 percent of those sent to juvenile detention are LGBTQ+. These children are the most likely to be unsheltered and without resources, and we respond by criminalizing them?

Many are opening their eyes right now to the harms and violence of police, and we need to be thinking about what it means that this county is spending $1.7 million to put these people in schools, in care of children. 1.7 million dollars would be put to far better use if directed towards a myriad of different sources, from basic resources (hygiene and food), to educators’ salaries, to mental health resources, to restorative justice programming for the numerous sexual assaults that happen to students and go entirely unaddressed. The list goes on.

(8) comments

jerseygrl42

what a ridiculous piece , the police and deputy sheriffs do a wonderful job here in Frderick County and the writer should be ashamed ,,,but I'm guessing she has none

francesca_easa

There must have been good reasons to put SROs in schools across the country. Yes, teens can get aggressive and violent in schools. Should the school faculty detain and handcuff problem children until the police come? Wasn't there violence at a Tuscarora High School game a few years back?Does Columbine ring a bell?

shiftless88

How many school shootings have been stopped by SROs?

francesca_easa

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, shift.

gabrielshorn2013

So, has Ms. Donoghue found any of the abuses she claims in the FCPS system? The SRO at MHS, Officer Smothers, was a great guy, and he was well-liked by the students there.

shiftless88

Actually, it should be up to FCPS to illustrate that there are NOT any such abuses and that this program is worth the $1.7M, don't you think?

gabrielshorn2013

You're asking to prove a negative (proving that something didn't happen) shiftless? No, that's not reasonable. Look at it as a logic problem.

- The Null hypothesis (Ho) is "X happened"

- The Alternate hypothesis is Ha "X did not happen".

It is much easier to find just one instance as evidence that "x happened", thus proving the Null hypothesis. You will forever be chasing your tail to prove (you can't) that "x didn't happen", because just one incident in the affirmative refutes "it didn't happen".

shiftless88

I mean that they should be able to pull up statistics on who is getting in trouble, what is happening, what role the officers are providing and any differences in, for example, school violence since the program started. They need to prove that the $1.7M is money well spent and is not discriminating. The numbers exist.

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