The following is an excerpt from the Times Picayunes' "Letters to the Editor" Section dated:
Monday, July 02, 2007
Re: "School security firm defends its cost," Page 1, June 25.
Of all of the mistakes made by the Recovery School District in the 2006-07 school year, one of the biggest was spending $20 million on The Guidry Group and their subcontractor Day and Zimmerman, private security companies with no experience working in schools or with children.
Pre-Katrina, New Orleans Public Schools spent approximately $3 million per year to secure 128 schools compared to the $20 million the RSD spent this year on 22 schools. Post-Katrina our children are suffering from post-traumatic stress. Our schools and our children need more support, not more policing. What if we spent $1 million per school on additional social workers, counselors and behavioral interventionists?
Schools that look and feel like prisons do not make kids learn better. RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas needs support in his decision to reduce security, increase the use of parents and community and implement district oversight.
Finally, should we celebrate that the "troublemakers left and just stopped coming to school"?
Our bet is that the students who left are now part of the large struggling group of young people 17-25 who are unemployed and unemployable, in a city desperate for workers.
When we will stop blaming our children and begin to believe that all children deserve schools that expect them to get a scholarship to college instead of a free ride to prison?
It is time that adults take the responsibility for creating school environments that educate all students.
Senior Youth Advocate
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana