TALLAHASSEE, FL - Today, the Senate Education Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 7030, entitled “School Safety and Security.” Despite evidence that more guns on school campuses do not prevent violence, Florida lawmakers seek to arm school staff through this bill. Research shows that these policies have a disparate impact on students of color and children with disabilities, and advocates including the ACLU of Florida have called on state elected officials to reject policies that increase the school-to-prison pipeline.
SB 7030 will allow more education funding to shift to “harden” schools. It will allow critical funds allocated for other purposes, including exceptional education services, supplemental academic instruction, classroom technology, and class-size reduction to be used for school security, like surveillance, guns, and metal detectors.
Kirk Bailey, political director, ACLU of Florida responded to today’s vote saying:
“We urge state lawmakers to reject this bill by refusing to hear it in any other Senate committees. Florida policymakers continue to prioritize policing over supporting students. At a time when schools are struggling to meet basic educational needs and youth face an unprecedented risk of suicide, SB 7030 would allow more education funding to shift to hardening schools and set the groundwork for more invasive intrusions into student privacy.
“Similar reactive measures failed to improve school safety after the tragedy at Columbine two decades ago, contributing to a school-to-prison pipeline that persists today. Indeed, over the last year, school arrests have increased, even as juvenile crime rates continue to fall to historic lows.
Our students would best be served, and protected, by research-based programming to support healthy school climates and professional student support staff, like social workers and counselors, in numbers adequate to appropriately serve their school population. Transforming schools into prisons and stripping tomorrow’s leaders of their civil rights is simply the wrong answer to the wrong question. The question we need to ask is how we can create school environments that foster student safety and success.”