From New York Post.
All children deserve to be safe at school.
Yet it turns out that New York City does not provide kids who attend private schools with the same level of protection as those at public schools. That’s not only unfair, it’s unsafe. And it ought to change.
As matters stand, only public schools in the city are eligible for NYPD school-safety agents. Private schools must provide security officers on their own dime.
And while child-safety is an issue no decent school would ignore, the fact is many private schools struggle to cover the costs of adequate security — and sometimes the safety of their students suffers.
Surely no one disputes the need for comprehensive measures to guard against threats, especially in the post-9/11 world. The tragic massacre a few months ago at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a bitter reminder that violence can erupt at any time in any place.
In America, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that more than 1 million non-fatal criminal acts took place on school grounds in 2012 alone, including 749,200 violent incidents. This does not include the many school shootings in the two years since the horrific massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Along with ensuring children’s physical well-being, adequate security is also vital for their mental and academic development. Children need to feel they are in a safe environment to thrive at school.
The most effective security: on-site personnel whose sole responsibility is safety. Here in New York, the city pays to place uniformed NYPD school-safety agents at the entrances of all public schools.
These safety agents provide an important physical presence and act as a deterrent to would-be trouble-makers. Unfortunately, no such provision exists for the city’s non-public schools.
Yet private schools often do not have the funds to hire private guards on their own. The tragic truth is that, right now, most private schools have far too few guards on duty — and many have none at all.
Having the city provide safety personnel isn’t just the right thing, it’s the fair thing. After all, the city covers busing costs for private-school kids and, along with the state, helps with the financing of other school-related expenses, too, like library books, nurses and extracurricular programs.
That’s because it would have to pay these costs if the kids went to public schools, and they are not religion-based. But why leave out something as important as school security officers?
There’s good news: Officials have begun to listen. City Councilman David Greenfield’s bill, Intro 65, would require the NYPD to provide all schools — public or private, religious or secular — access to school-safety agents at the city’s expense. It now has support from 46 of the 51 council members, guaranteeing it a hearing; one is slated for Tuesday.
Even staunch foes of funds for private schools should agree the safety of all children is paramount. A student’s life does not have less value merely because he or she attends a private school. And ensuring safety is a public responsibility — with a cost that should be shared by the community.
We urge the city to pass Councilman Greenfield’s bill. We seek parity, because private-school students’ lives matter, too.