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"Police Shouldn't Be in Schools": Omar, Pressley, Warren, and Murphy Introduce Bill to End Federal Funding for Officers on Campus

"Schools should be places of learning, not law enforcement."

Children running in a playground in Domino Park on July 26, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

A quartet of Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate on Wednesday introduced a pair of companion bills aimed at cutting federal funding for police officers in schools and diverting the money to social services resources that will help children rather than threaten them. 

"Police shouldn't be in schools," the bill's Senate co-sponsor Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement. "There are plenty of better ways to ensure that our schools are safe places to learn, and Congress needs to understand how police in schools ends up with the wrong kids getting arrested for minor disciplinary actions and resources being drained from more effective programs."

The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act (pdf) is co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and the House version is sponsored by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

"Schools should be places of learning, not law enforcement," Omar said in a statement. "As a mother of three beautiful Black children and a Minneapolis public schools graduate, I have seen firsthand how Black and brown children are disproportionately punished, reprimanded, suspended, and expelled in our schools."

"If we're going to tackle systemic racism, we need to start at childhood," Omar added. "That means getting police out of schools."

According to Murphy's office, the bill would:

Divert federal funding away from supporting the presence of police in schools and toward evidence-based services that address the needs of marginalized students and improve academic outcomes; and support local education agencies that want to terminate their contracts with local law enforcement agencies and invest public funding in personnel and services that create safe and inclusive schools for all students. 

"Counselors, nurses, social workers, and educators belong in schools," said Warren. "Police do not."

The legislation is backed by number of high-profile educational advoaccy groups, including the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association. 

"Instead of criminalizing our students and funding an ever-growing police presence in our public schools, it's time to finally invest in the critical staff like counselors, nurses and social workers who actually make our schools safer," said Pressley.

"The Counseling Not Criminalization Act is bold legislation that will disrupt the school to confinement pathway by prohibiting federal funds from being used to over-police and criminalize our students," she added, "and instead encourages schools to invest in the trauma-informed personnel and healthcare staff necessary to equip all students to learn and thrive."

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