The Caucus is supporting high school students and youth organizations who are calling on the Mayor to reallocate funding from school policing to increase citywide investments in Restorative Justice, Mental Health Supports, Guidance Counselors and Social Workers, and Culturally Relevant Education
New York, NY – On Wednesday, April 4th, the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council joined Chair of the Education Committee Mark Treyger, New York City students, the Urban Youth Collaborative, Ugnayan Youth for Justice and Social Change, Desis Rising Up and Moving, and Dignity in Schools NY to rally at New York City Hall to call on the Mayor to adopt young people’s solutions for creating safe and just schools for all.
The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is proud to stand in solidarity with students across the country and in our own city. We recognize that gun violence disproportionately impacts students of color, and so we rally for student safety not only inside of classrooms, but within our greater communities. Young people have led countless movements for change here in New York City and across the country, and as progressive elected officials; we pledge our commitment to uplifting the voices of student advocates and fighting for their safety.
“New York City schools need to spend more money on guidance counselors, social workers, and teachers not on criminalizing students and turning schools into detention facilities,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “Students need to feel comfortable while they are safe in order to learn. Thank you to the Urban Youth Collaborative and Education Chair Mark Treyger for bringing attention to this topic.”
“I know firsthand that what struggling students need is support, not suspension. High school aged students who are dealing with social pressures, and mental or emotional health concerns should not be criminalized as a first response, which often leads to further interactions with the criminal justice system out of school and facilitates the school to prison pipeline. Rather, we need a structure in place that provides aid, and I am proud to join with the voices of these students calling for safe, supportive, and inclusive schools,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Member of Progressive Caucus.
“School safety should not be synonymous with punitive approaches like suspensions, scanners and unjust suspicions levied against students of color. Instead, our city should be making lasting and positive investments to transform our schools into truly safe havens for all students,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Member of Progressive Caucus. “I want to thank the young people who are leading this movement to revolutionize the way we approach school safety and to create an education system that is responsive to students of all cultures and backgrounds. I will continue to fight to make sure that your voices are heard.”
“It’s time for leaders in Washington, Albany, and here at home to pay attention to our young people, who are courageously showing us the path toward a future where our students can feel safe and supported,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. “As a former educator, I know that students gravitate toward social workers and guidance counselors when they need help navigating life in and outside of their school building. Social workers and guidance counselors help students cope, process, and ultimately, open up to the full academic and social experience available to them. We need to stop focusing on punitive measures, and start listening to our students and providing them with the help and resources they need. Investing in more social workers and guidance counselors means investing in our students and their futures. I am proud to have stood with so many of our students, the Urban Youth Collaborative, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer today at City Hall, and I thank the members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus for joining us.”
Following the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, New York City (NYC) students have experienced a backlash of criminalization. Young people have called for an end to school safety approaches that criminalize students of color, including, metal detectors and scanning, arrests, summons, NYPD in schools, and the use of suspensions. Students are calling for citywide investments to bring restorative practices to every school, significantly increase the number of guidance counselors and social workers, develop a mental health continuum, scale Culturally Responsive training for all educators, and increase student-led college access and support programs. The Caucus supports this call for action.