School Resource Officers, Helpful Or Harmful?

 

By: Sarah Nanos

          This past summer, the Black Lives Matter movement brought attention to the deep-rooted police brutality and racially motivated violence towards people of color. As these issues were brought to attention, the problems with having police officers in schools became all the more clear.
           School resource officers, also known as SRO’s, are law enforcement officers employed at local police departments or agencies who are assigned to work at and collaborate with schools. SRO’s receive 40 hours of specialized training in school policing before working at schools. SRO’s are still police officers, and therefore they carry the same equipment they are issued, which includes guns. Ideally, SRO’s are stationed at schools to minimize property damage to the school, prevent student injuries and death, reduce the need of schools to call 911, reduce the likelihood of students having criminal records, increase the likelihood that students with mental health issues can receive the help they need and provide and increased feeling of safety among students and staff. “The goals of well-founded SRO programs include providing safe learning environments in our nation’s schools, providing valuable resources to school staff members, fostering positive relationships with youth, developing strategies to resolve problems affecting youth and protecting all students, so that they can reach their fullest potentials.” the National Organization of School Resource Officers said.
          Despite the intended goal of increasing students safety, the presence of armed police in schools has had an adverse effect. Students, especially students of color and students with disabilities, consider police officers threatening. “The resolution brings up the narrative of the “school-to-prison pipeline,” as a growing sentiment that African-American and Latino students and students with disabilities are often singled out for discipline that sometimes leads to arrests,” Legislative Analyst's Susan Farag and Craig Howard said in the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018.
          More problems are found surrounding SRO’s presence in schools. Incidents of unwarranted violence against students have convinced school systems throughout the United States to abolish the SRO program. ‘School districts in Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland, Ore., have all promised to remove officers, with the Seattle superintendent saying the presence of armed police officers “prohibits many students and staff from feeling fully safe,’”according to the New York Times.
          Supporters of the SRO program argue that having officers in schools benefit students in dangerous situations, such as school shootings. However, there is little evidence that shows SRO’s protecting students in these situations. In the case of the Parkland school shooting in 2018, the school's SRO, Deputy Scot Peterson, remained outside of the school in a safe area instead of entering the school to protect students. In fact, SRO’s in schools are not required by law to protect students in dangerous circumstances, and more often than not are not effective in protecting students. “An internal probe by the Broward County Sheriff's Office found that Peterson, who was assigned to the high school as a school resource officer, “did absolutely nothing to 
mitigate” the shooting, according to a statement released by the agency,” Broward County Sheriff’s Office said according to ABC News.

Learning Through A Screen: Not As Bad As It Seems

By: Luke Jordan, Grade 11

          With school having been online for over a year now, it might seem tempting to go back.
Cabin fever might be getting the better of us, and an escape from it all sounds nice. However,
school is far from how it used to be, and it won’t take long to realize that online school is significantly better than this in-person “solution.”
          It might seem strange that teachers are communicating through a screen rather than
face-to-face like they would in a normal classroom setting. Going in-person won’t be any different. Sure, the teacher will be there with you, but their attention will not be on you. Teachers will still need to teach to their computers, so not much will change in that regard.
          One main difference between looking at a screen at home versus in the classroom is comfort. The desks at school are wildly uncomfortable, meanwhile a perfectly nice chair, mattress or other sitting contraption awaits you at your very own home. Why make the switch for the more or less same experience without the perks? No chiropractor necessary.
          Sleep is something that teenagers have always struggled with. According to the CDC, teenagers should get anywhere from eight to 10 hours of sleep a night. This is unreasonable considering the busy life of an average teenager. Online school cuts down on the need to travel and look presentable, leaving students more time to get some shut-eye.
          When it comes to lunch in a normal school year, you can either bring food from home or buy food from the cafeteria. After a while, the process becomes repetitive, and there’s only so much food with portability. At home, however, a whole new world of culinary possibilities opens up. Fresh ingredients and a wide array of appliances satisfies the taste buds in a way a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich could not.
          Friends are another issue. Social distancing will make it difficult to have regular conversations with friend groups in the hallways, that is if your friends have also opted to return and you fall in the same half of the alphabet. Both methods don’t have great alternatives for direct communication, but at least you can text your friends online.
          There’s only so much school left before we’re out for the summer. Taking everything about this “solution” into account - the limited change, the need for preparation, the limited social interaction - the best thing to do would be to ride the year out. By September, school should hopefully be partially or fully back to the way it was. But for now, all the advice I can give would be this: stay home.