Removing police from Madison’s public high schools never made any sense. It was destined for disaster. Today’s news brings evidence that the disaster is upon us.
On Wednesday afternoon about 100 people brought an altercation that began inside East High School onto a street that borders the school. Ten Madison cops and a supervisor had to respond to quell the situation. To make matters worse, members of the crowd fled the scene after refusing to cooperate with the police. That suggests gang connections or other criminal activity that the perpetrators didn’t want revealed.
Would it have come to this if the Educational Resource Officer (the bureaucratic title for a cop imbedded in a school) was still there? Of course, there’s no way to be sure, but it’s a fair bet that that officer would have defused the situation long before it became a near riot.
ERO’s had been in Madison’s high schools for almost three decades and their service had been exemplary. There were no problematic incidents involving them. In fact, most were women or people of color and they served as positive role models.
Most importantly, because they were in the schools every day, they got to know the players. They knew the kids at risk for getting into trouble, they knew the staff and the layout of the building. It’s hard to measure their exact impact because you can’t quantify incidents that don’t happen, but they were highly regarded by both students and staff.
So why were they removed? Because a handful of loud activists spun theoretical narratives around the history of policing and race and touted “the school to jail pipeline.”
Of course it’s true that the national history of policing has included racist elements. But that has nothing to do with the empathetic, well-trained officers from the progressive Madison Police Department.
And, as for that pipeline, arrests in school are likely to increase now that the ERO’s are gone. That’s because incidents like this one will continue to happen instead of being headed off. And when they do happen the responding officers will have no choice but to make arrests.
Shoving reason aside, the Madison School Board and the City Council simply caved to pressure from unhinged activists, ending the contract between the district and the city to provide the officers. The most egregious caving was from then School Board President Gloria Reyes. A former Madison cop, Reyes had resisted this ill-considered move. But then her front law was covered in defaced American flags from the activists demanding the removal of the ERO’s.
Instead of doubling down on her position in response to that kind of bullying, Reyes reversed her position and the rest is increasingly dangerous history.
The East High mess isn’t the only example of trouble. Neighborhood listservs are bubbling with reports of other fights in other schools.
Up until now I did not hold out much hope that two of the most out-of-touch School Board members — Ali Muldrow and Ananda Mirilli — could be defeated when they’re up for reelection next spring. Now, I hope that they’ll come to their senses, replace the ERO’s and steam to victory.
But I don’t think those hopes are well founded because Muldrow and Mirilli are just too steeped in ivory tower race theory to see the real threat that their policies are imposing on students. If that’s the case let’s hope that they get tough challenges from sensible candidates next year.
Welcome to the 247th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!