Racial Justice Groups Call for Florida Governor to Veto Bill Increasing Funding for Police in SchoolsFlorida Community Organizations and National Advocates Urge Florida Governor to Reject Bill on Guns and School Security
MIAMI – Today, youth justice organizations and national education advocates are calling Governor Rick Scott to veto school security legislation approved by the Florida Legislature in response to the fatal mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. SB 7026, which includes an alarming provision for arming teachers, was approved by both the House and Senate this week with specific provisions for allocating nearly $400 million to put police in every Florida school.
“Our state currently spends $55,000 a year for each young person that is incarcerated, but only $7,000 per year is spent to educate students,” said Rachel Gilmer, co-director of the Dream Defenders. “Our legislators have now found enough money to place even more police on school campuses, but have not found the money to provide valuable resources that support teachers with raises and smaller classroom sizes, or implementing art and culture programs that nurture the healthy development of students.”
“Here in Miami-Dade County, we’re already up against a proposed $30 million increase in funding that would add at least 100 more school police officers and surveillance technology with a much lesser investment in counselors and mental health supports,” said James Lopez, executive director of Power U Center for Social Change. “The call for more police has devastating impacts on young people. Florida legislators need to show students that they value their health and success with real investment in student supports, not in police that criminalize them.”
“Increasing funding for police in Florida schools will not lead to safer campuses and communities for students,” said Judith Browne-Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project’s national office. “We have seen the damaging impact to young people, particularly students of color, when lawmakers respond to school shootings with increased police presence in schools. It does not do justice to the students of Parkland to implement reactive and ineffective solutions to this problem. We call on Governor Rick Scott to throw this bill out.”
“Our public schools need adequate funding for our students to learn, not arming teachers with guns,” said Monica Russo, president of SEIU Florida. “We have historically seen the impact communities – especially communities of color – face when we increase security and police, instead of investing in their opportunity to grow and succeed. Governor Scott must veto this pro-gun, anti-student bill. The $400 million should be invested in our students and teachers at every level. It is the least we can do.”
The Dream Defenders, the Power U Center for Social Change, Advancement Project’s national office and Florida’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 are supporting a petition calling for Governor Rick Scott to veto SB 7026 and any other legislation to increase police presence as a solution to school safety. The petition can be found here.
Dream Defenders is an organization of young people committed to building a powerful, rooted, and local movement for freedom and liberation in Florida. Founded in 2012 after the murder of Trayvon Martin, they organize to end the mass incarceration tearing Florida communities apart and replace it with alternatives that respect the humanity and dignity of all people. Their vision is a state that puts the needs of its people and its land above corporations and the wealthy. They have chapters in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, St. Petersburg and Gainesville, FL. To learn more visit www.dreamdefenders.org.
Power U Center for Social Change is a community-based organization who organizes to develop the leadership of Black and Brown youth and Black women in South Florida so that they may help lead the struggle for education and racial justice.
SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees, and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.
Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high-quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.