“Defund the police” is the latest rallying cry from protesters throughout the U.S., still reeling over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police. And while the concept of defunding police departments is about limiting their authority, it’s also about reallocating that money towards social services that communities are desperate for.

In Boston, on Wednesday, protesters called for Mayor Marty Walsh, along with the Boston City Council, to cut 10 percent of BPD funding — around $41 million — from the city's budget. Others pointed to the department's $60 million overtime budget as an area worth trimming.

On Thursday, former Mass. Secretary of Education Paul Reville called in to Boston Public Radio, where he discussed the ways that reallocated money could better serve students and educators across the Commonwealth.

Reville began by acknowledging that most state education advocates would gladly accept more funding, but said that "competing priorities for that kind of money would have interesting side effects, and positive side effects for school.”

The first example he gave was mental health services, explaining that “police departments spend a lot of time dealing with people with mental health issues.”

He noted that many schools strain to accomodate mental health issues, too.

“Before Covid,” he said, "the number one problem you’d hear from school superintendents across Massachusetts [and] across the country is, 'we’ve got mental health issues coming in the door with our students every day, that we’re overwhelmed with, and can’t cope with.’

“If some of this money were to go to a better mental health system, that would have benefits for not just people on the street but families and children going to school — that would be a big help to school departments right there,” he said.

Other major areas critically in need of resources, Reville said, are housing and food stability.

"If some of that money could go towards stabilizing housing for families so kids could come to school from a stable living environment, instead of moving every couple of months and having all the disruption that goes along with that... or if money could go to food, and alleviating the food deserts that we have and the food insecurity… all those things would add up to very positive sort of outcomes for schools," he said.

Paul Reville is former state secretary of education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where he also runs the Education Redesign Lab. His latest book is "Broader, Bolder, Better: How Schools and Communities Help Students Overcome the Disadvantages of Poverty."