Public Comment: Amherst Pelham Education Association Supports Full Funding For Community Responders Program


Photo: The Urban Institute.

The following public comment was offered on behalf of the Amherst Pelham Education Association by Jonathan Sivel at a public forum on CRESS, held by the Town Services and Outreach Committee on December 9, 2021.

The Amherst-Pelham Education Association (APEA) is in full support of the proposed Amherst CRESS Program and the important efforts of the Community Safety Working Group, including the funding proposed in the draft Amherst budget. The APEA is committed to social justice and racial equity in Amherst, and as educators, we see daily the ways our students and colleagues are impacted by systemic racism and the chronic underfunding of supportive public services in favor of carceral ones. Some members of the community have proposed a false dichotomy: have either well-funded schools or town-wide community-supported justice and well-being programs. We reject this assumption that funding other necessary progressive town programs somehow detracts from the wellbeing of the school community. While we are in agreement with the Amherst School Committees on adequately funding our schools, we believe full funding for CRESS and Amherst schools will work in tandem. We support our town in leveraging the budget process to prioritize both. We know that our community cannot thrive without both. As an organization, we are committed to restorative, rather than punitive approaches to personal and social crises. We have heard the testimony and read the accounts of Amherst community members and their experiences with the system of policing in Amherst. We understand that today, Amherst has a long way to go in becoming a community that is not only safe for our Black, brown, indigenous, and neighbors of color, but one in which all people can thrive. Our goal as educators is a community in which all children may grow, learn, and develop to their fullest and for that reason, the APEA supports full funding of CRESS. 

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