The Data is Clear: Police Do Not Belong in Chicago Public Schools

The presence of police officers in our schools and their detrimental impact on Black and Brown children is well documented, especially in our hometown of Chicago

As a result of the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless others and the subsequent uprisings, the role of police in our society has become a national and long overdue conversation. The presence of police officers in our schools and their detrimental impact on Black and Brown children is well documented, especially in our hometown of Chicago. 

More than 10 years’ worth of data paints a picture of Black and Brown children being targeted, arrested, physically abused, and criminalized without fail. The Advancement Project’s report Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse-to-jailhouse Track showed that in 2003 over 8,500 Chicago Public School (CPS) students were arrested in school and 77% of those students were Black. In 2010, Mariame Kaba and Frank Edwards’ report Policing Chicago Public Schools: A Gateway to the School-to-Prison Pipeline showed that in that year over 6,400 CPS students were arrested on school property and 74% of those students were Black. And, in 2017, the Shriver Center’s report Handcuffs in Hallways: The State of Policing in Chicago Public Schools showed during the 2012 – 2013 school year that CPS made over 4,800 referrals to law enforcement and that there were over 2,400 school-related arrests and over 60% of those students were Black. 

Young leaders, families, teachers, and advocates throughout Chicago have been relying on this data and their lived experiences to prove to us all that police officers in schools cause harm, don’t make them feel safe, and disproportionately impact Black and Brown students and families in negative, life altering ways. We unequivocally join them in advocating for #policefreeschools. The data is clear — police do not belong in Chicago Public Schools — and the $33 million contract between CPS and the Chicago Police Department needs to be terminated. Chicago should join other cities like Denver, Minneapolis, and Oakland

The goal of our 2017 report was to elevate the harms of having police in schools. We stopped short of fully responding to and joining the consistent demands of young leaders, teachers, and community activists in calling for #policefreeschools. We recommended, in part, that law enforcement should not be permanently assigned to Chicago Public Schools. While we know that many groups have relied on the data in our report to make the case for #policefreeschools we also know that the data and our recommendations resulted in solutions, which we advocated for, that historically have not always produced desirable outcomes. Going forward, we are committed to always listening to the voices of people directly impacted by laws and policies. We are working hard to become better allies and partners in these efforts for #policefreeschools and in all aspects of our advocacy.

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The Shriver Center on Poverty Law fights for economic and racial justice. Over our 50-year history, we have secured hundreds of victories with and for people living in poverty in Illinois and across the country. Today, we litigate, shape policy, and train and convene multi-state networks of lawyers, community leaders, and activists nationwide. Together, we are building a future where all people have equal dignity, respect, and power under the law. Join the fight at povertylaw.org. 

About the Author

Patrice James
Patrice James
Patrice James
Director of Community Justice

312.368.2001

Audra Wilson
Audra Wilson
Audra Wilson
President & CEO

312.854.3041

Kate Walz
Kate Walz
Kate Walz
Vice President of Advocacy, Senior Director of Litigation, & Director of Housing Justice

Shriver Center on Poverty Law

312.368.2679

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