On December 5, 2018, the Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) released “Do the Harder Work–Create Cultures of Connectedness in Schools,” a report responding to the proceedings of the Federal Commission on School Safety and calls to “harden” schools. As of the writing of this report, the Commission, the body appointed after the Parkland tragedy to make “meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school,” has yet to release its final recommendations. The focus of many of the Commission’s panel speakers, however, was physical safety and security measures–which criminalize students of color, LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming youth, as well as their communities. While emergency planning and infrastructure are important components of school design, calls to arm teachers, increase police presence in schools, and invest in further improving physical security infrastructure all too often come at the expense of more holistic considerations of student well-being. Investments proven to criminalize children threaten to derail efforts towards the kinds of schools all young people need and deserve.
States and local districts have the opportunity to do what the Commission failed to do: lean into the vision of public education that youth, parents, and teachers are fighting for–a vision that is not limited by a narrow and deeply flawed understanding of safety. Join us as we push towards investments and supports that will actually transform schools into places where all young people are prepared to succeed and thrive in school, in career, and in life. When school is a welcoming, nurturing and safe place for students, where they have a deep sense of belonging, and where they are challenged to grow, our communities are stronger, and our future is limitless.