Letter to the Editor
Against Police Officers in Schools
I urge the community to join in supporting the end of the taxpayer-funded $360,000 annual contract between Madison Metropolitan School District
(MMSD) and Madison Police Dept., the removal of police officers from MMSD's schools, true community governance and decision-making power for
the resources allocated in schools, and the building of an infrastructure and climate of transformative justice instead of punishing youth.
“We Must Do Better,” are the words projected for everyone in the McDaniels Auditorium to see and hear, the coda to a presentation delivered this
past Monday by MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and staff to the Education Resource Officer (ERO) Internal Workgroup. As the conclusion
of this meeting dovetailed into the public comment period of the Board of Education meeting, over 30 community members, many of whom Black
and brown youth attending MMSD schools, offered the school board specific and direct ways that MMSD can and, indeed must, do better.
In fact, these courageously and thoughtfully articulated solutions have filled up the podium microphone each month for nearly the past two calendar
years. So why has it taken Ms. Cheatham, Board of Education President Mary Burke, and the rest of the board nearly two years to enact policy
changes meant to increase the access and quality of a public school education for its Black and Brown youth? Have we so quickly forgotten the
disparate and inequitable public educational environment that the Race to Equity report has so plainly revealed to our mostly white community and
decision-makers about Dane County?
While at the podium one community member asked people in the packed auditorium to vote with their feet, inviting folks to stand up if they agree that
cops with guns do not mean safer schools. Almost the entire room rose up in unison to collectively say to the board, “No! We Must Do Better!”
Healthy meals and snacks, subsidized bus passes, as well hiring and retaining more Black and brown social workers and counselors, are some of
the many ideas put forth by Black and brown youth for how MMSD must do better by reinvesting taxpayer dollars into resources that promote youth of
color leadership, wellness, learning and creativity. Such reinvestments require no new taxpayer revenue and represent innovative yet straightforward
approaches to fostering school safety and wellness.