This Is Not A Race, But A Marathon

24 Jun This Is Not A Race, But A Marathon

“This is not a race but a marathon, and we must keep up the fight,” says CoCo Lead Organizer Gilbert Johnson regarding L.A. Board Members’ refusal to act on demands to defund the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD).

Black youth are less than 9 percent of the District population, but they accounted for 25 percent of all of the arrests. (Million Dollar Hoods Project at UCLA, 2018)

LAUSD has increased its spending in law enforcement by 48% since the 2005-2006 school year, despite seeing a decrease in the student population (UCLA Black Male Institute, forthcoming)

86% of Students Deserve’s survey respondents (out of 5,433) called for the defunding of LAUSD school police, including 88% of Black students called for the defunding of school police. (Students Deserve survey, 2020)

Over 43 percent of surveyed LAUSD youth (out of 1,840 District students and 3,378 overall L.A. County youth) have experienced random police stops and interactions in their schools. (Brothers Sons Selves Coalition’s Safety and Youth Justice Survey, 2019.

79.4% of survey respondents want full-time psychiatric social workers. 74.2% of respondents want full-time college counselors. 72.8% want smaller class sizes. 69.1% want ethnic studies. 65.2% want parent, family, and community centers. 58.4% want grief counselors.

“Yesterday’s inaction and the Board’s inability to stand up for students of color was a complete and utter waste of time, and extremely disrespectful to students and parents who trusted and believed in them to hear their voices and concerns. The Board’s refusal to redirect the much-needed resources amid a budget crisis almost certainly guarantees that the needs of Black students and families will continue to be questioned and diminished,” says Corey Matthews, Chief Operating Officer, Community Coalition. 

The seven-member L.A. Board of Education was unable to reach a consensus on Tuesday as it debated resolutions by board members Jackie Goldberg, George McKenna, and Monica Garcia, the longest-serving member on the Board. Garcia’s resolution, known as the Freedom Resolution, would have phased out LASPD over four years beginning July 1, 2021.

“We are disappointed and dismayed at the decision that LAUSD board members made to maintain the status quo. The country was looking to these elected officials to reimagine school safety by centering on Black students’ needs and voices. Thousands of students and parents turned out to call on the district to support the only progressive resolution championed by School Board Member Monica Garcia by putting forward a three-year plan to redirect policing funding to highest needs schools with high populations of Black students,” Matthews continued.

Despite thousands of students and parents calling for LASPD to be eliminated and having that money reallocated to mental health professionals, smaller class sizes, and college prep counselors, the Board took no action. 

“This is what happens when you have a school board that is outdated, out of touch, and operating from a deficit mindset that seeks to monitor and control students as opposed to nurturing their minds and their futures,” Corey concluded.

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