A Critical Content Analysis of the School Resource Officer Training Text in Texas
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Inspired by fears of school shootings and supported by substantial federal funding, the number of school resource officers (SROs) on our nation’s K-12 campuses has increased exponentially. The consequences of this sea change have yet to be fully evaluated. What we do know suggests cause for concern. Specifically, SROs’ presence may be contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP), most especially for students with minoritized identities. This concern demands increased attention to SRO training and professional development. Because Texas educates a substantial portion of the nation’s students and has recently legislated mandatory SROs training (referred to as TCOLE 4064), the state is poised to lead the country in SRO preparation. My study examines the Texas training material for potential intersection with key components of the STPP, such as, race, school discipline, gender, sexuality, and disability, among other concerns. Using a hermeneutic approach and grounded in Critical Whiteness Studies, this study deploys critical content analysis and critical policy analysis to answer the following:
- RQ 1: What assumptions about the nature of schools and students frame SRO training in TCOLE 4064?
- RQ 2: Which concerns about working in schools are highlighted in TCOLE 4064 training, and which concerns are ignored?
- RQ 3: How does SRO training in TCOLE 4064 address officers’ potential impact on minoritized students and the STPP?
Thematic findings reveal dysconscious definitions, unreliable information, and deficit thinking that enshrine Whiteness as correct; marginalizes girls, LGBTQIA+ students, and students with disabilities; and reinforces racist, sexist, and homophobic beliefs. These findings lead to some questions and considerations through which the school safety framework can begin to be rebuilt for more responsive and equitable schools.