Something Feels Amiss And We Must Discuss It: The Developing Story of McCutcheon Elementary

This week’s blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager. Dion is also a former public school teacher. 

Earlier this week, SCY had our final Quarterly Meeting of 2020.  If you missed it, I’m sorry…it was fabulous!!!  We had an amazing panel, as well as tons of amazing attendees who offered great insight and questions. This particular quarterly meeting was also special because it was our bi-annual revision and review of our SCY Policy Agenda.

If you’re not familiar with our policy agenda, definitely visit our website and give it a look.  The SCY Policy Agenda is what we use to guide the work of SCY, and every two years we invite partners and stakeholders to revisit the document alongside us to make sure that the work of SCY is always as relevant and helpful to the evolving situations here in Chicago. To make the policy agenda more digestible, we basically break it down into our Focus on Five.  It’s also a perfect time as a SCY team member to reflect on the mission and purpose of SCY. It was in this realm of reflection in which I became aware of the developing story emanating from McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown.

It is an understatement to say that I was dismayed with this situation. As a former educator, I can’t honestly say what my reaction would be if I saw a security guard or officer dragging an adolescent child down the hallways. I imagine that I would yell “What are you doing?” signaling my anger at the situation. Additionally I can say for certain I do know that I would be sure to note my dismay to the administration at my earliest convenience.

I’m hard pressed to understand what adult would think that this was an appropriate course of action. Full stop.

Now yes, this is an uncomfortable topic, and no, I don’t address this topic to point any fingers. However, we definitely should be talking about this. It’s important to note that recently many schools throughout the city recently voted on whether to retain School Resource Officers (SRO’s) inside of their schools.

For those schools who voted to retain SRO’s, it is now important to have discussions on how those officers are interacting with children, and what we deem as appropriate interaction.  Also, we obviously also need to have discussion broadly as to when parents are notified about officer/child interaction.  Additionally, there is still space for ongoing discussions as to whether officers in schools are appropriate, and how those choices relate to the ongoing discussions of both systemic racism, and the school to prison pipeline.

I hope in 2021, we can continue to have these discussions, and work every day so that we don’t repeat ugly instances like this. It pains me to think that this child will no longer think of school as a safe space.  That’s unacceptable, and we must all work together to make sure that it doesn’t happen.

Photo credit: “School Resource Officer” by LEO-Trainer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


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