New York City private and parochial schools with at least 300 students will soon be guarded by taxpayer-funded security guards, thanks to legislation that is set to be approved by the City Council on Monday.
The bill, which has been led by Brooklyn councilman David Greenfield, initially proposed a budget of over $50 million—a number at which Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly balked. The budget is now a little less than $20 million.
“I introduced this legislation originally post-Sandy Hook, when it was clear that nonpublic schools do not have the protections that public schools have,” Greenfield said in an interview with WNYC.
He also noted that the recent attack in San Bernardino made the bill especially relevant: “It’s another reminder how the world has changed in the last few years that terrorism is on the rise. And so it’s another benefit of having security, but that was not the impetus.”
Greenfield represents Borough Park, an area of Brooklyn that has a number of Jewish schools (100 of the approximately 300 schools covered by the plan are Jewish), although the councilman noted that Muslim and Catholic schools also supported the bill.
New York City currently already pays for textbooks, computer supplies, certain special education programs, and school buses for its private schools.
As someone who attended a predominantly Jewish private school in D.C., I can say that the thought that we might be especially vulnerable to some kind of malicious attack was not uncommon (especially in the Fall of 2001). The idea, however, that our protection should be funded by the stretched city budget, was preposterous.
“Crossing the line between public and private is something our forefathers were smart enough not to do,” United Federation of Teachers president Mike Mulgrew said on Friday. The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators president Ernest Logan agreed that the money was being irresponsibly allocated.
The New York Civil Liberties Union also came out against the bill. In a statement, the organization’s advocacy director Johanna Miller said: “To suggest that these private, sectarian institutions that receive monetary support from their students and private donors should be financially supported by the city as well is not only bad policy, it is an example of unconstitutional government support for religious institutions.”
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via AP.