Parents, Students Call for More Support, Not More Armed Police in Schools
Protestors in President’s hometown demand investments in real school safety in response to White House recs

WHAT: Press conference with students and parents to demand that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) use proposed federal funding for school safety to add counselors and social workers to Chicago schools, not armed police and surveillance measures.

As part of President Barack Obama’s proposals to reduce gun violence, the White House has recommended that the Department of Justice direct funding towards installing additional police in schools, and that the 2014 federal budget include $150 million for states and local school districts to use towards school counselors, psychologists, armed police and guards, and equipment such as surveillance cameras and metal detectors.

Students and parents in Chicago are demanding that any new federal funds go towards the evidence-based use of counselors, social workers and mental health interventions alongside proven strategies to improve school climate and not more police. They will share their personal experiences with Chicago Public Schools’ overuse of school police, an approach that has led to record-high public spending, stark racial disparities and the overuse of school-based arrests for misdemeanor offenses even as the homicide and gun violence rates in the surrounding communities skyrocket.

To meaningfully improve school climate and safety, students and parents are calling on CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett to work with them to direct proposed federal funding towards counselors, social workers and school psychologists—not more police.

WHERE: Chicago Public Schools Headquarters, 125 S. Clark St.

WHEN: Monday, January 21, 2:00-2:30p

WHY: “We need more ways to support our students, not more cops to arrest them for little things. Let’s get the guns off the streets and work for real peace for our children,” said Felipa Mena, POWER-PAC co-chair. Felipa is a restorative justice peacemaker at Wells High Schools and a mother who lost her son to gun violence.

“We have 10 full-time school security guards and two full-time armed school police, but we don’t even have one school psychologist," said VOYCE student leader Ahkeem Wright. “That's just not right. How are you going to make schools safer when you're not investing in solutions to the root causes of violence?”

This demonstration is organized by COFI/POWER-PAC, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE). Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth-led organizing collaborative for education reform made up of six community organizations throughout Chicago: The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (the Alliance) promotes safety, support and healthy development for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in Illinois schools and communities. POWER-PAC (Parents Organized to Win, Educate and Renew—Policy Action Council) is a cross-cultural, citywide membership organization of low-income parents united around issues of importance to families. POWER-PAC is staff-supported by COFI (Community Organizing and Family Issues).