We have been detailing the 2021 Black Lives Matter curriculum that was circulated by Heartland AEA. Today we want to share information from “The People’s Plan For Police Free Schools.”
A 12-page PDF included in the curriculum details Oakland Unified School District’s “long record of disproportionately suspending, expelling, involuntarily transferring and arresting of black students into the criminal justice system.”
Black Organizing Project engaged with OUSD leadership over this “human rights crisis.”
The document discusses the “school-to-prison” pipeline on students and families of color. While the district has adopted restorative justice and trauma-informed practices, the group said the “continued presence of armed police in our schools is a blatant contradiction of everything OUSD claims to stand for.”
“A growing body of research shows that aggressive policing is a threat to physical and mental health, especially for vulnerable communities of color,” the document states. “You cannot have OSPD officers in schools causing trauma and harm for black and brown students and also say that you are for restorative justice or trauma-informed practices.”
The document says the district cannot allow 73 percent of students arrested to be black when they are just 26 percent of students enrolled.
“The district’s commitment to providing ‘sanctuary’ for immigrant students and families rings completely hollow as long as OUSD fails to stop the hemorrhaging of black students and families from OUSD due to the toxic climate created by policing, criminalization and push out.”
In addition, the Black Organizing Project said OUSD is “contributing to unsustainable and degrading structures of anti-blackness.”
“By having police in the enclosed public space of school buildings, the district is exposing black students and students of color to early police contact and higher chances of being criminalized. Oakland schools are socializing black students to experience police surveillance, containment and suppression as normal.
“Such a deeply embedded and institutionalized form of preemptive policing has extremely significant consequences. By foreclosing opportunities toward graduation, college and employment for Oakland’s black youth, school policing is fundamentally undermining the economic and public health of the black community by restricting access and opportunity.”
Part one of the plan calls for divesting from school policing by eliminating the Oakland School Police Department and barring any future contracts with law enforcement.
Why? Because both in the bay area as well as nationally, the document states the “racist institutional history and current realities of policing in communities of color make school police an inherent part of the school-to-prison pipeline for children and youth of color.”
Part two calls for reorganizing the campus safety and security program under the Department of Equity or Behavioral Health and to restructure the role of security personnel to become mentors and peace/culture keepers.
They want to change the job title of security personnel to “reflect new responsibilities (peacekeeper/school climate specialist).
Other parts of the plan call for reinvesting $2.3 million OSPD budget into hiring additional mental and behavioral health and special ed staff as well as establish a community oversight committee to review and redress all student and family complaints regrading interactions with law enforcement or school security personnel.
Under a section called “Science for police-free schools,” the document states there is no reduction in school crime, no increase in student safety and the presence of school police triples the odds of the school having a high number of arrests and widens the racial disparity in arrest.
Other “public health impacts of policing” include young men of color reporting more police contact and higher anxiety scores. It also notes residents of neighborhoods with high rates of law enforcement use of force are at increased risk for diabetes and obesity.
The document includes a graphic of student responses to the statement that police make them feel safer.
Note that the majority of black students say the statement is at least a little true while 43 percent said “not all the time.”