For Immediate Release
Tafari Melisizwe, Communications Coordinator
[email protected] | www.dignityinschools.org
DSC Statement on the latest #AssaultAt, this time in Florida
New York, NY — We hope that Taylor Bracey, the 16 year-old Osceola County, FL junior assaulted by a school resource officer in the recently-surfaced video, and her family are doing well.
The Dignity in Schools Campaign strongly condemns the brutal action and behavior of Ethan Fourneir and supports the call from the family for him to be fired, but we’re not going to center him so much in this statement. While individual action is certainly an agent of and often protected by institutional racism, he is but an expression — a dangerous and violent one — of a larger, centuries old problem of anti-black, state-sponsored violence against Black children. Black children and the communities they come from nationwide continue to be the most policed and the least safe. Students are always facing the threat of violence from armed and unarmed law enforcement in their schools, including fatal and possibly life-threatening injuries, as we see from the released video. What is safety when armed law enforcement officers patrol our school halls and knowingly harm students with excessive force? What is accountability when the reprimand for body-slamming a child is paid administrative leave? What is safety when schools can call the police and have them show up at your door during the school day?
If this illuminates anything, hopefully, it grounds our work (again) in the fact that lasting change always happens at the local level. Students, no matter who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, have been brutalized, assaulted, tazed, knocked unconscious, dragged across the floor, mentally terrorized and subjected to unwanted sexual advances by police officers, School Resource Officers (SROs) and security guards. Students come to school to learn, not to traverse metal detectors, or face under-paid teachers who are afraid of them, or militarized police having ‘a rough day’ at the office.
Marlyn Tillman, community activist and co-founder of Gwinnett SToPP says that “Black children continue to be dehumanized at every turn. Black people are constantly subjected to extreme use of force and death for living life while Black. Yet white people can mount a coup against the seat of our government and stroll out of the Capitol building. Black children are forced to navigate school spaces that are a toxic mix of racism, oppression and patriarchy. I call on federal, state and local officials to take definitive action to protect the human rights of Black children. Remove police from schools NOW!”
Let’s look at some quick facts:
In every state in the US, spending on corrections grew at a much higher rate than education spending over the past three decades.
On average, per student spending on education at the state and local level decreased by 28% while spending on corrections increased by 44%.
School Resource Officers are police, not counselors or social workers.
47 states and D.C. don’t meet the recommended student-to-counselor ratio.
The incoming Secretary of Education must be compelled to do more than offer platitudes about the wrongs of systemic racism or “achievement gaps”. We must hold our federal policy-makers accountable to take action, and we must be committed to securing local victories in the everyday environment(s) our young people live in.
Here are a few ways to get involved and amplify the work of members, colleagues and comrades nationwide:
DSC Statement on Anti-Black Violence and Education Justice
A Resource Guide on Counselors Not Cops
Participate in the 2021 BLM at School Week of Action (Feb 1-5th, 2021)
The DSC challenges the systemic problem of pushout in our nation’s schools and works to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. As a national coalition, the Dignity in Schools Campaign builds power amongst parents, youth, organizers, advocates and educators to transform their own communities, support alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization and the dismantling of public schools, and fight racism and all forms of oppression. We bring together our members through direct action organizing, public policy advocacy and leadership development to fight for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity.