New York City to spend $20 million for unarmed security guards in private, religious schools

Nothing about this makes any sense. From the Washington Post:

[New York’s] City Council voted 41 to 4 on Monday to spend $19.8 million during the first year, starting April 1, to reimburse non-public schools with at least 300 students for expenses they incur hiring security guards. The guards must be unarmed, registered with the state, paid a “prevailing” rate, and trained to work in elementary schools, according to the council.

Bill de Blasio, via Kevin Case / Flickr

Bill de Blasio, via Kevin Case / Flickr

The policy represents a compromise that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio reached with council member David Greenfield, whose Brooklyn constituency includes a number of Jewish schools that will benefit from the policy. Greenfield’s original proposal called for the city to put fully-armed members of the police force in schools and would have cost more than twice as much, with an estimated price tag of $50 million. Greenfield cited the Sandy Hook shooting as an example of why private schools need the government to step in and provide the same security for their students and faculty that public schools already have. Apparently those schools are either unwilling or unable to hire security guards themselves.

So, to recap, a city council member proposes using millions of dollars in public funds to put police officers in schools, which are otherwise unwilling to hire their own security guards. The mayor, in response, doesn’t tell the city council member that their idea is wrong and bad and, if not unconstitutional, at least in conflict with regulations relating to what organizations that receive public funds aren’t allowed to do (discriminate against gays and lesbians in the workplace, for example). Instead, he proposes a compromise that takes all of the bad parts of the idea (public subsidies for private and religious organizations, the continued prison-ification of schools more generally) and removes its teeth (armed security).

Now, if someone actually does enter a private religious school in Brooklyn with an AR-15, they will be confronted by a government-sponsored security guard who will do…what, exactly? Point their finger at the shooter and say “BANG”? If you’re going to unconstitutionally endorse religion, at least do so with internally consistent policy.

This is throwing money at religion for religious privilege’s sake. As a self-described progressive, de Blasio should know better.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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