Student Well-Being

Schools With Police But No School Counselors: A Closer Look

By Evie Blad — December 09, 2016 1 min read
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Among the findings from the most recent federal Civil Rights Data Collection that got the most attention: 1.6 million students attend public schools that have an on-site law enforcement officer but no school counselor.

That’s a relatively small share of the nation’s students, but civil rights groups—many of which have pushed for a scaling back or removal of police from schools—say it points to poor spending priorities, particularly those that enroll large shares of students of color.

A new White House blog post examines an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers and takes a closer look at the figure, finding that black and Hispanic students are more likely to be enrolled in schools that spend money on law enforcement but not counselors, who are often crucial to helping students, particularly low-income students, develop social-emotional skills, secure financial aid, and gain access to higher education. Hispanic students are more likely than their black and white peers to be enrolled in schools with neither an officer nor a counselor, and white students are the most likely to attend schools with counselors but not police, the analysis finds.

The blog post links that analysis to findings about disparate discipline rates. As the post says:

“CRDC data also indicate that minorities experience different forms of school discipline: black K-12 students are 3.8 times as likely as white students to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions and 1.9 times as likely to be expelled. Research suggests that these disparities in discipline and support may have profound long-run consequences. One study finds that disparities in exclusionary discipline, or discipline which removes students from the classroom, may be an important driver of racial disparities in juvenile court referrals—a pattern that some have called the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Other research suggests that discipline problems could be compounded when resources are diverted from guidance counselors, whose presence helps to reduce disciplinary incidents and also to raise academic achievement.”

The Civil Rights Data Collection, assembled by the U.S. Department of Education, includes data from nearly every public school and district in the country. It explores everything from access to advanced coursework to corporal punishment to how much experience teachers have.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.