Police Don’t Keep Students Safe, Even During School Shootings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 26, 2022

Anya Silverman-Stoloff | anya@unbendablemedia.com 
Kelli Johnson | kjohnson@texasappleseed.org

National Campaign for Police Free Schools, Texas Appleseed Call for More School-Based Mental Health Supports to Address Root Causes of Violence

WASHINGTON — In response to calls to increase police presence in schools, following the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, spokespeople from the National Campaign for Police Free Schools, co-convened by the Advancement Project National Office, Alliance for Educational Justice, and Texas Appleseed, issued the following statement:

“Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones in Tuesday’s mass shooting, as well as the community reeling in shock and despair from the murder of 19 children and two educators. Ten years ago, many of us bore witness to the massacre in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. There have been countless school shootings in the years since, tearing apart the lives of students, teachers, parents, and everyone who loves them,” said Jonathan Stith, lead spokesperson for the National Campaign for Police Free Schools. “Following the mass murders in Texas, school districts all over the country are responding with more police presence in schools. We need more than the appearance of safety. Police did not keep the students and teachers of Robb Elementary safe. Proposals that increase the presence of police, guns, and other militarized approaches to school safety only put gasoline on the fire. We must instead invest in mental health supports and professionals, restorative justice and trauma-informed practices, and build the cadre of trusted adults to address the root causes of violence.”

“With unspeakable sorrow, we join millions of Texans and folks across the United States and the globe grieving Uvalde. We ask policymakers to first and foremost listen to the people directly impacted by our culture of hardened schools in Texas. In many ways this horrific event mirrors the school shooting in Sante Fe in 2018. The executive and legislative branches of the Texas state government swiftly moved to prioritize these investments in school policing. Four years later, we must face the truth — more miliaritized school environments do not address the root causes of mass violence,” said Andrew Hairston, Education Justice Project Director for Texas Appleseed. “Story after story, including evidence based research, show that Black and Brown communities feel the brunt of increased law enforcement after a school tragedy. Young people in Texas — and across the country — deserve robust investments in mental health support services, restorative justice practices and proven methods of engagement. The events at Robb Elementary call on all of us — parents, students, teachers, lawmakers, and the community — to find ways to redefine school safety or history will continue to repeat itself.”

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The National Campaign for Police Free Schools is co-convened by the Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice, and includes dozens of organizations from across the country. It is a formation of youth-led grassroots organizations fighting to end the criminalization of youth in the classroom, create liberatory educational spaces, and implement an affirmative vision of safety and transformative justice. As modern-day abolitionists, we believe in and organize for a world without prisons or police.

Texas Appleseed promotes social, economic, and racial justice for all Texans by leveraging the skills and resources of volunteer lawyers, other professionals, and community partners to identify practical solutions to difficult, systemic problems.