Dear House Select Committee on School Safety and the NC General Assembly:
We the undersigned are students, parents, teachers, community members, and organizers concerned with the state of schools when it comes to questions of violence and safety.
We call upon this committee as well as the entire NC General Assembly to fully consider what school safety means for the most vulnerable among our communities. There have been many conversations over the last several weeks that have made mention of increasing police presence on campus or arming teachers and volunteers as a solution to violence and mass shootings.
It is imperative that our lawmakers seriously consider a definition of safety that does not invite more police or more punitive discipline policies onto our campuses or armed teachers.
In conversation with students across the state of North Carolina who have been tirelessly organizing to demand safer schools, these are the key words we've found that define safe schools for students and their communities: "trust", "secure", "free from fear", "comfort", and "peace." Students we've talked to have also expressed how important it is for them to feel like they can exist as their whole selves in schools, without being scared that they are being judged because of their race, religion, or sexuality.
We believe that the solutions to safety concerns in our school communities are:
- increased funding to teachers
- more resources for school nurses, social workers, and counselors
- support for culturally relevant curriculum
- sustained funding for restorative justice programs and peer to peer mediation
These are just some examples among many other options to address school safety that are centered in student well-being, student experience, and the necessity that students learn, work, and play in an environment where they are not intimidated by police, school resource officers, or other figures of authority who are not trained to work with young people.
We look forward to the outcomes of the Wednesday, March 21 convening of this body. And will continue to organize our communities for the safe schools we deserve.