A minority student advocacy group says zero-tolerance disciplinary policies at Chicago Public Schools don't work. Armed with a cost analysis report, Voices of Youth in Chicago Education said that CPS (CPS) spent $51.4 million on school-based security guards last year, about 15 times the $3.5 million it spent on college and career coaches.
About 75 students rallied at CPS headquarters demanding a new student disciplinary policy to eliminate harsher punishments that they say remove students from classes for minor infractions such as bringing a cellphone to class or not being in uniform. Students weighed in on the current budget crisis to say they don't need police in their schools — a measure under consideration as the district tries to close a budget deficit it estimates at $612 million. They believe CPS funds need to be directed away from guards and police officers and diverted instead to counselors and prevention-based strategies.
CPS spends $25 million for two police officers in each of its 100 high schools, says a Chicago Tribune report.
CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said increased school security personnel has led to reported crime being down 22 percent over the last two years and expulsions down by 28.6 percent, the report says.
The group's report, "Failed Policies, Broken Futures," says CPS spends millions on enforcement of its code of conduct, which no longer includes the term "zero tolerance" but continues to apply punishments as if it did. The report instead advocates putting more money into interventions like mental health services, peer mediations and restorative justice programs, and specifying that harsher punishments should be removed for minor offenses like bringing a cellphone into class or being caught in the hallway after the bell rings.