Portland voters must scrutinize policy ideas beyond surface impressions. Mayoral candidate Mark Dion’s platform emphasizes two pillars: “safety and affordability.” His safety agenda proposes renewing a role for police in schools, a stance founded on a misguided belief about the role of law enforcement in educational institutions.

The presence of police officers in schools is linked with escalated noncriminal youth arrests, feeding the school-to-prison pipeline. High-profile cases like the Parkland and Uvalde school shootings reveal that on-site officers rarely deter serious violence. Absent serious crime, these officers often investigate minor offenses, disproportionately affecting the well-being and futures of students of color.

Dion’s plan overlooks what truly cultivates a safe learning environment: resources for struggling learners, superior instruction and curriculum, engaging enrichment and meaningful out-of-school opportunities. These elements foster care, focus and meaning for students’ futures.

Investing in police presence instead of these pivotal educational components is not only financially imprudent but also draws attention away from the profound challenges educators face.

Portland voters, let’s say “no” to Mark Dion and “yes” to a future where schools are places of learning, not law enforcement.

Beth Rabbitt

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