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National #PoliceFreeSchools Advocates Welcome “Counseling Not Criminalization” Legislation

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Alex Jordan
ajordan@advancementproject.org
404-558-3581

Bicameral bill would shift federal resources away from school police and incentivize investment in evidence-based supports for students 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, members of the Senate and House reintroduced the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, a bill that heeds the call of youth leaders across the country who are organizing to win Police Free Schools, dismantle the school to prison and deportation pipeline, and secure investments in the resources and supports that students need. Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice, co-leaders of the National Campaign for Police Free Schools, welcome the introduction of this legislation.

“The Counseling Not Criminalization Act begins to recognize the amazing organizing led by Black and Brown youth and their communities across the country for Police Free Schools,” said Jonathan Stith, founding member and National Coordinator for the Alliance for Educational Justice. “We want schools with mood detectors, instead of metal detectors, strawberry gardens instead of suspension rooms, filled with caring adults, instead of cops. The National Campaign for Police Free Schools believes this legislation is a step in the right direction to reimagining school safety that doesn’t require criminalization, surveillance and punitive discipline.”

The bill would prohibit federal funding from being used to hire, recruit or place cops on K-12 campuses and establish a grant program that incentivizes school districts to invest in trauma-informed, evidence-based supports, including by replacing cops with counselors, social workers, and mental health practitioners. Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice joined more than 400 allied individuals and organizations this week in calling on Congress to heed the call of youth advocates, adopt this legislation and help advance the movement for Police Free Schools.

“Every student deserves a safe, affirming, and equitable learning environment, and putting cops in our schools is directly at odds with this necessary goal,” said Katherine Dunn, Director of Advancement Project National Office’s Opportunity to Learn program. “School police routinely criminalize Black and Brown students, threaten them with incarceration and deportation, and put them at risk of physical harm. We’re pleased that congressional leaders are recognizing the demands of youth leaders who are organizing to win Police Free Schools; this legislation can help move us toward a future where all students have access to the supportive, restorative resources that they need to learn, grow, and thrive.”

The bill’s original sponsors, Sens. Murphy, Warren and Smith and Reps. Pressley, Bowman, and Omar, held a press conference this afternoon with youth leaders to discuss the urgent need to end the criminalization of Black and Brown kids in our nation’s schools.

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Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit www.advancementproject.org/home to learn more

Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ) is a national alliance of youth organizing and intergenerational groups working for educational justice. AEJ aims to bring grassroots groups together to bring about changes in federal educational policy, build a national infrastructure for the education justice sector, and build the capacity of our organizations and our youth leaders to sustain and grow the progressive movement over the long haul.

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