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Laurentio Howard, whose 16-year-old daughter was assaulted and tased by cops in her high school, supports call for CPS to invest in student needs, COVID-19 safety – not cops in schools.

  • Noon, TODAY, June 24 Car Caravans/marches: Marchers assembling at Federal Plaza, Dearborn and Adams; car caravan assembling near Grace Place, 637 S Dearborn.
  • Noon: Press availability with Laurentio Howard, Federal Plaza, Dearborn and Adams.
  • 12:30 p.m. (approximate): March/caravan to CPS headquarters for Board of Ed meeting.
  • 1:00 p.m. rally: (time approximate) Daley Plaza, Clark and Washington.

CHICAGO—A growing number of school districts are cancelling police contracts as part of a national uprising against police violence and white supremacy. But Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot has refused to honor her pledge to replace cops in schools with restorative justice, trauma supports and other critical student needs.

The mayor has also, to date, failed to guarantee school communities will have what we need to open safely this fall: adequate cleaning for schools; adequate soap, water and disinfectant for students and workers; PPE for all; temperature checks and adequate staffing of health professionals in our school buildings; and social distancing strategies that protect students, their families and workers, including smaller classes.

The CTU is joining a broad coalition of grassroots groups TODAY, June 24 to demand that the mayor’s hand-picked board of education reverse course and fund critical student needs instead of cops in schools. At NOON at the Federal Plaza, the CTU and coalition partners will join Laurentio Howard, whose 16-year-old daughter was assaulted and tased by cops in her high school, for a press availability as marchers assemble. Protesters will stage a street march and car caravan that will converge first on CPS headquarters during the monthly Board of Education meeting, then rally around 1:00 p.m. at Daley Plaza.

The need is critical. Many of CPS’ predominately working class students of color face trauma in their lives from poverty, unemployment, unstable living conditions, lack of access to health care and affordable housing, and over-policing in their schools and communities. Criminalization in schools only compounds that trauma, yet CPS has declined to invest in proven, cost-effective alternatives like restorative justice.

The data is clear. CPS students as young as six have been targeted by cops in CPS schools. Cops target Black students at four times the rate of white students, while Black women and girls have been subjected to school-based policing at rates seven times higher than white students, even as more than 2,300 misconduct complaints have been filed against cops in schools.

Yet at schools that trained students and staff in restorative justice, reports of misconduct dropped by 31%, out-of-school suspensions dropped by 50%, and “severe incident reports” dropped by 43.8%, according to the Chicago Reporter. Englewood’s now-closed Robeson High School found that facilitating restorative justice programs over three years prompted a dramatic cut in suspensions, misconduct and incidents that required police notification. Critically, restorative justice also helps derail the school-to-prison pipeline that is driven by punitive policing in schools.

CPS instead chose to spent $33 million last year to bankroll 180 CPD cops in public schools—and offset Lightfoot’s budget shortfall on the City side. Those public dollars could instead have funded more than 350 restorative justice coordinators, social workers, school psychologists or nurses⁠—all positions in desperately short supply in public schools.

Those distorted priorities defy the mayor’s own declared position to move away from policing in schools. Restorative justice remains appallingly underfunded in CPS, and the district has consistently failed to provide students with the social/emotional supports that help them develop productive, responsible problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.

Participating groups are calling on CPS and the mayor to:

  • Pull police out of CPS, and use the $33 million CPS allocated to cops in schools instead on measures that make schools safer for students, including restorative justice, trauma and wrap-around supports, nurses, counselors and social workers;
  • Guarantee that our schools will have what they need to open safely this fall, including adequate cleaning for our schools; adequate soap, water and disinfectant for students and workers; PPE for all; temperature checks and adequate staffing of health professionals in our school buildings; and social distancing strategies—including smaller class sizes—that protect students, their families and workers;
  • Invest in Sustainable Community Schools as a condition for reopening schools this fall;
  • Invest in affordable housing and economic development for students and their families.

The CTU won 120 new positions in its last contract fight for restorative justice coordinators, social workers and other high-needs student support positions⁠—yet the shortfall in staffing to provide basic educational and social/emotional supports remains massive.

Today’s June 24 action is being convened by the CTU and Action Now, Black Lives Matter Chicago, STOP – Southside Together Organizing for Power, Northside Action For Justice, the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, GEM – the Grassroots Education Movement, IL Raise Your Hand, Parents 4 Teachers, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Pilsen Alliance, Journey 4 Justice, and KOCO – the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.