Teachers' & Students' Call to Action: #InvestInSchoolsNotPolice


Contact: Sally Lee, Teachers Unite: sally@teachersunite.net / 646-206-4160
or Anna Bean, Teachers Unite: anna@teachersunite.net / 646-707-4006

NYC teachers and students call for investment in Restorative Justice in public education and divestment from school policing—and for teachers to demand action from their unions

New York, NY - November 16, 2015 - Teachers Unite released a video over the weekend highlighting the need for resources and funding for implementing restorative justice in schools and calling for an investment in public education, not more police in schools.

"If school districts are rethinking discipline, Teachers Unite members—NYC public school educators—want to make sure these ‘reforms' are done right,” says Sally Lee, Executive Director of the independent, member-based organization in New York City.

Mayor de Blasio released recommendations for reforms in school climate over the summer, but his administration has not yet made a substantial investment in Restorative Justice initiatives in schools.

"Restorative Justice is not replacing suspensions with the newest buzzword. It’s not an experiment on black and brown young people, and it’s not a trendy new discipline mandate from above,” explain NYC students and teachers narrating the video.

They continue, “the NYC School Safety Budget is almost $500 million a year for policing schools, scanning students, and arresting young people for minor misbehaviors. Think about what kinds of positive supports for students and schools we could be spending this money on. Public schools implementing Restorative Justice need sustainable, multi-year funding for dedicated staff, like full-time RJ coordinators, district-wide coordination, professional development, and youth and parent training and leadership."

Teachers Unite is also calling on teachers across the country to demand that their unions take an active role in calling for an end to school policing. Sally Lee explains: "Teachers unions need to hear from all of us, but especially rank-and-file public school educators. Our power as a union is enormous; for educators who see themselves as working in solidarity with low-income communities of color they serve, now is the time to use that power in a meaningful way. If teachers unions followed the lead of the communities most impacted by mass incarceration, they would at the very least work to:

1) Shift funding to replace school police and other law enforcement with counselors, community intervention workers and peacebuilders, Restorative Justice and positive discipline

2) Assure the hiring of unionized Restorative Justice Coordinators in schools who would lead school-wide strategic planning and professional development of school staff, and coordinate parent and student leadership opportunities in school-based Restorative Justice programs

These recommendations stand in contrast to those made by AFT president Randi Weingarten in the Daily News on November 8th, in which she called for professional development for police officers and “the community policing model that integrates officers into school life."

Teachers Unite’s video is live at http://tinyurl.com/o5ej2pw.