On Wednesday night, we saw a video of yet another student being physically brutalized and criminalized by an armed school police officer, this time in San Antonio. The 12-year-old girl, Janissa Valdez, was body-slammed, face-first, on the concrete before being handcuffed and taken away. The scene was reminiscent of another horrific incident involving an officer ripping a young black girl out of her desk at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., and throwing her across the classroom last October.
But these incidents are not isolated. In fact, they are part of a sad reality that youths in urban communities have lived with for decades. We have to call it what it is: Many of our schools feel more like prisons than places of learning.
And the studies back it up. New data released by The 74 found that three of the country’s largest school districts—Chicago, New York City and Miami—invest more money in policing students than in helping them. That means there’s plenty of funding for the harsh disciplinary policies that disproportionately criminalize and push young black students out of school and into the school-to-prison pipeline, but little for the types of measures that could help keep students in school, where they belong.
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