It’s graduation time for high-schoolers and college students alike. The streets here are awash in young people in suits, prom dresses, and graduation garb. I love to see those fresh faces full of excitement, and a little apprehension, about the future. But it is not lost on me that, in response to recent events, while so many young people are experiencing this important rite of passage, many of us are having —or not having— difficult conversations about school safety. For anyone avoiding the conversation, it might help to know what the research about gun violence in schools is telling us. The current debate around school safety is centered on mass shootings. But research to be published later this year by Professor James Alan Fox and doctoral student Emma Fridel shows that mass school shootings are rare events. They have found that, on average, mass murders in the U.S. occur between 20 and 30 times per year while, on average, only about one of those incidents takes place at a school.
In the wake of a tragic shooting in San Bernardino, California, on Monday, the Security Industry Association (SIA) pressed for wide adoption of school security guidelines developed by the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS), which prescribe a tiered approach for schools based on available resources. SIA also announced its support of proposed funding measures on Capitol Hill that would authorize matching grants for school security measures.
Currently, there are approximately 100,000 public K-12 schools in America. On average, the main instructional buildings for these schools are more than 40 years old. The age of those buildings can create an issue in building quality, possibly negatively affecting both students and teachers. Studies show student achievement is linked to building quality, and facility quality can have a “substantively significant” effect on teacher retention. If students are in school to learn and teachers are in school to teach, we want them to do that to the greatest of their abilities. They must have safe learning and teaching environments.
The Town of North Attleboro is setting the standard for school safety in Massachusetts. Since the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, the Town has identified school safety as an utmost priority, and accordingly engaged in a multi-year process to improve school safety. The Town school safety program, which includes the Interim Town Administrator, Police and Fire Departments, and the School Superintendent, is an ongoing program to implement best practices into school safety.
[Editorial by By Jean Klasovsky] SB2793 is sitting on IL Governor Pat Quinn’s desk. He should sign it. This bill would make suspension and expulsion rates public and require the schools with the highest rates to create a school discipline improvement plan. With one of the highest suspension rates in the nation, one might think […]