July 24, 2018

The action

Here is a chance to be, as in Hamilton, in “the room where it happens“. A little harder than arguing on Facebook, but more rewarding. The rationale is below, and here is the action: show up and support No Cops in Schools, headed by Freedom, Inc at these events. Your simple presence is enough.

  1. Education Resource Officer (ERO) Committee meeting July 25 5-8pm Madison School District – Doyle Administration Building
    545 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53703, USA
  2. School Board meeting July 30 6-8pm Madison School District – Doyle Administration Building
    545 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53703, USA

ALTERNATIVELY, call or email the school board (all the adults here) with the points below, or use this template.

Freedom, Inc is asking for (from a handout at their meeting tonight, you can check me on their Twitter)

  1. ALL cops removed from schools
  2. Invest the $360k/year currently put towards EROs instead towards resources benefiting youth of color.
  3. Give the Community control over the safety of our kids. MMSD’s agreement with MPD gives MPD complete control over what cops do while in the school. There is no accountability.

These are supported by research. Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? talks about acting out as a manifestation to the extra challenges kids of color statistically face and provides examples of how addressing that reduces disruptions and violence in schools and improves academic performance (e.g. 2nd ed. p 155-156). Restorative justice advocates in Madison agree.

The history

Cops in schools is one of the answers governments implement in the wake of school shootings. Columbine and Sandy Hook both prompted more money being directed this way, and Parkland followed suit (and added other things you remember like arming teachers).

In Madison a committee was formed to evaluate the ERO program on a timeline of 15 months. Those months are up, and the school board will make policy decisions soon based on the Committee’s recommendation draft (a quick 4-page read). The draft nods to racial disparities outside the classroom having an impact on the first page, and says restorative justice should be available (p.2, #5), but it’s unclear how that would happen when MPD isn’t accountable to anyone. The draft talks about creating a pool of 20+ officers who would be trained in school policy and be the ones to respond to calls, but would not be stationed in the school. Chief Koval and Mayor Soglin have said MPD cannot deliver that service. It does ask for police to only be involved on criminal, and not behavioral, issues.

There was a meeting last week wherein David Blaska, ex-Dane politician (liberal, even) and current conservative blogger, tried to record a child speaker with a phone. Freedom, Inc members prevented it by standing in front of it or holding objects in front of it. There is a statute that says government meetings can be recorded by anyone as long as no one’s rights are violated. Freedom, Inc argued that the students did not feel comfortable being filmed by a stranger with unknown intentions, and later posted that Blaska doxxed the kids (I haven’t found proof, and Blaska denies it on his site, and I haven’t gone back and asked Freedom, Inc about it). A woman named Faye was also being prevented from filming, and struck a student when she felt threatened. Her phone was knocked out of her hand. You can get Blaska’s version of events on his blog. Here is a good sample of the kind of empathy he has on this issue, including video of the blocking and accusing his opponents of “thuggery”.  He is also asking for a police presence at the next meeting. (Bonus point: first comment suggests inviting the local Proud Boy chapter). Because of this, you will see Freedom, Inc asking that known white supremacists (Blaska) be prevented from attending as well as asking that no police are present for the same reason they shouldn’t be in schools. 1A rights at a public meeting versus the right to safety? All the more reason to be in the room where it happens and come to your own conclusion.