Long Island Students Need Social Workers Not State Troopers
BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (September 15, 2017) — Two days ago Governor Cuomo announced a plan to have New York State Troopers patrol the hallways of Long Island schools. The six school districts where Cuomo wants to deploy State Troopers are all underfunded. In fact the state owes them $203 million in Foundation Aid as a result of the statewide settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity school funding lawsuit, funding which Governor Cuomo has aggressively opposed.
Additional funding could be used for guidance counselors, social workers, art, music, and after school and prevention programs which are proven to be more effective in creating safe school atmospheres than police officers on patrol.
Blanca Villanueva, Long Island Education Organizer for the Alliance for Quality Education and a Brentwood resident with siblings in the local schools, says, “At a time when students feel most vulnerable, when their classmates and friends have been falsely accused of gang activity and then placed in deportation centers, putting cops in their hallways is at best clueless, and at worst, reinforces the school-to-deportation pipeline. If Governor Cuomo can afford to put state troopers in schools, that means he can absolutely afford to put guidance counselors and social workers in our schools instead. Counselors would do far more to address the problems our community faces than more and more cops, who only contribute to the current atmosphere of fear and vulnerability our immigrant students must live with every day.
“Less than two months ago Donald Trump came to Brentwood claiming he was going to crack down on MS-13 and suggesting that undocumented immigrants are ‘animals.’ Like Trump, Cuomo is targeting Brentwood and surrounding communities and he is throwing around inflammatory rhetoric suggesting that the State Troopers in the schools will be cracking down on ‘domestic terrorists.’ It reeks of racial profiling from both Trump and Cuomo. Putting State Troopers in our schools feeds unwarranted racial stereotypes about Latino youth.”
“As a parent of a Black male teenager I absolutely do not want state troopers or more law enforcement officers in my child’s school. I want him to have access to qualified teachers, science labs, sports and Advanced Placement courses,” said Daphne Marsh, Wyandanch High School parent. “It is blatantly disrespectful for the Governor to ignore parents and the community as if our voices don’t matter. Without speaking to the community first, the Governor has chosen to invest in more officers for my son’s school, while neglecting to invest in educational enrichments. To really address the problem we need to make sure our schools are safe havens with ample opportunities for children to stay engaged in positive activities after-school and on weekends. If the state has additional funds available then by all means, give it to education which has been underfunded for years.”