Vallas: Chicago Teachers Union’s flawed dogma kicked police out of schools 

Vallas: Chicago Teachers Union’s flawed dogma kicked police out of schools 

The reach of the Chicago Teachers Union combined with their anti-police ideology is putting Chicago’s youth at risk. Chicago Public Schools need school resource officers, but this fall they become police-free zones.

The Chicago Board of Education voted last week to remove police from city schools beginning next school year – a move pushed by the Chicago Teachers Union and their former lobbyist, Mayor Brandon Johnson, who picked nearly the entire board.

It’s another sign of CTU’s control of Chicago. CTU bosses are major public supporters of the anti-police and “defund the police” movements.

Historically, CTU has:

  • Allied with the Democratic Socialists of America, who call the Chicago Police Department a “white supremacist” organization.
  • Seen their leaders and rank-and-file members organize and participate in anti-police rallies.
  • Told students and their families the police are singling out Black and Latino students. Their disingenuous focus on “safety” and student needs ignores that CTU leaders have overlooked prevalent evidence of widespread sexual assault by its members against students.
  • Inaccurately blamed police budgets for the lack of community investment, despite almost five times as much being spent on CPS as is spent on city police.
  • Pressured high school local school councils to remove police officers from schools, jeopardizing the safety of the most vulnerable students. The CTU conveniently supports councils being empowered to remove police from the schools yet forbids them to make any changes to schools that impact CTU member numbers, workdays or job security. 

Removing police from schools will harm students. Police are essential for school safety. During the past 15 years, there has been a significant national increase in school shootings: 82 in 2023, steadily rising from 18 in 2008. During the past three years alone there have been a shocking 234 school shootings, almost double the previous three years.

The alarming rise in youth crime and the related rise in violent crime underscore the need to maintain a police presence on school campuses. The University of Chicago Crime Lab reported a 50% increase in murders among school-age youth since 2019, with 8% of murder arrests and 9% of shooting arrests involving school-age individuals.

CTU is naively ignoring the escalating violence that is engulfing our youth in their quest to “defund the police.” Meanwhile, district savings from cancelling the police contracts will be insignificant. Reimbursing the city for police coverage constitutes only about 0.1% of the total school district budget.

The CTU’s role in demonizing police undermines the trust needed between police and the community to ensure public safety. That lack of trust has contributed to the abysmal arrest rates.

Instead of removing police officers, the city and school board should revamp the school police officer program in a way that uses officers more effectively. The city could create a dedicated school resource officer program, with officers carefully selected as those best-suited for interacting with students and faculty.

The specially trained unit’s officers would not only serve as first responders in school emergencies but also act as liaisons between the police department and schools. The program could train officers to respond to incidents involving any inappropriate behavior on the part of adults within and outside the schools, including domestic violence incidents, bullying, gang intimidation, and other health and safety needs.

Banishing Chicago Police Department officers from local schools should not be an option. School resource officers should be widely provided.

This mistake carries potentially tragic consequences. It is driven by misinformation and ideology and naively ignores the escalating violence engulfing our youth.

The new school board’s time would be better spent developing a school safety program that ensures a Chicago Police Department officer’s presence in more schools and uses those officers effectively.

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