Readers Comments 7-9-21
Students deserve to flourish
The Claremont Student Equity Coalition believes that all CUSD students deserve to flourish in an institution that centers learning, care and compassion. Our coalition exists because we believe that progress is possible and that we the students deserve to be heard by the leaders in our community. We joined together a year ago because we shared a vision of schools where the needs of students of color are met, where suicide and overdose aren’t normalized, and where behavioral issues and substance abuse are proactively addressed by trained mental health professionals—not penalized by armed police. Central to our mission is the removal of an armed officer on our campuses and increased investment in resources to support the wellbeing of all students. In the face of ongoing resistance, we have kept up our advocacy because those goals are worth it.
Our efforts to replace the CUSD School Resource Officer with non-criminalized mental health and student support resources (e.g., unarmed School Safety Coaches, peer mediators, Behavioral Intervention Workers, proctors trained in de-escalation, counselors, etc.) continue to be met with heavy opposition by those who fear a shift from the status quo and who grasp at straws to protect tradition for tradition’s sake. Why is the status quo so dangerous? Because the current climate is failing us—the students.
According to a thorough, nine-month investigation by the Claremont Police Oversight Commission’s SRO Ad-Hoc Committee, there is no proof—nationally or locally—that SRO programs are effective in any way. Worse, CUSD citation data suggests the effects of student policing are disproportionately felt by Black and Latinx CUSD students. If the CUSD Board of Education and the larger Claremont Community fought half as hard to improve our institutions as they do to maintain ineffective practices, the students they serve would be healthier, safer, and better protected from the school to prison or graveyard pipeline.
We urge those opposed to the SRO’s removal to ask themselves this question: statistically, is the SRO program effective? If not, what is holding you back from replacing an ineffective program with a new model designed to better care for students? If it’s visceral emotion, if it’s discomfort, if it’s fear of change—please let go—for all of our sakes.
Stand with us and act with us to improve CUSD for all students: especially those that have been overlooked in this predominantly white town and its predominantly white schools. The Claremont community is at a crossroads and it is time to move forward.
Ms. Junisbai is a CHS graduate and a founding member of the Claremont Student Equity Coalition.