By Raymond Scott
Many of America’s largest school districts are hiring more security officers than they are counselors. In four of the top ten largest public school districts in the country, including New York City, Chicago, Miami-Dade County, and Houston, security officers outnumber school counselors.
A report released by the website The 74 reveals that the nation’s largest school districts are prioritizing security over counseling, despite research that demonstrates effective and comprehensive counseling can increase school’s security. In New York and Chicago, there are about half as many counselors as there are security officers.
“I’m not surprised, but it still concerns me deeply,” says Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s racial justice programs. “It reflects an approach to school discipline and school safety that is ultimately counterproductive.”
The ACLU has shown that public school security disproportionately disciplines students of color, which adds a racial dimension to this dilemma. Students subjected to harsh discipline are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. The majority of students in the largest ten school districts are students of color, who are disproportionally affected by the repercussions of stepped up security and underfunded counseling.