How will teachers’ union respond to school districts cutting ties with the school resource officers the union represents?

Since the death of George Floyd, a debate on policing in the United States has ensued.

One area articles and editorials have focused on is the role police unions play in protecting bad officers. Yesterday I wrote about the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions (the NEA and the AFT) signing onto a letter calling for police reforms that included a national database with the names of police officers who have had their licenses revoked due to misconduct. The teachers’ unions should also support such a database for their members, considering they too struggle with bad apples.

The common theme between police unions and teachers’ unions of stonewalling reform attempts could be why the teachers’ unions “have been noticeably silent when the subject of police unions is broached,” writes Mike Antonucci on The 74.

As school districts sever ties with their local police department, they are also rethinking their employment of school resource officers (SROs). These sworn police, Antonucci continues, are usually contracted with the local police department but can also be school district employees represented by the teachers’ union.

Both the National Education Association [NEA] and the American Federation of Teachers [AFT] represent thousands of school security personnel, including SROs.

Momentum has been building over the past few years to eliminate SROs, but it is important to remember the pressure that was brought to bear by the public, politicians and teachers to deploy them in the first place.

School shootings and classroom violence spurred the placement of cops in schools. Even then-Senator Joe Biden in 2001 supported “giv[ing] school resource officers to every school that wants one” to “give parents a little peace of mind that their kids are safe” and “teachers a hand in maintaining order in their classrooms,” reports Antonucci.

And while removing cops from schools “may have a positive effect on race relations, its effect on school violence is unknown.”