- Chicago Public Schools is set to add 14 more schools to its Safe Passage program, which hires staff members to protect students on the way to school, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
- The Safe Passage program began in 2009 with 35 schools and now employs 1,400 school personnel to protect 75,000 students at 159 schools under the guidance of the Chicago Public Schools' Office of Safety and Security.
- The Chicago mayor’s office reports a 32% decrease in the crime rate along Safe Passage routes since 2012 and attendance rates at those schools has also improved.
Chicago has been in the educational news a good deal lately as it tops the nation as the most improved school district in terms of educational achievement. Here is another example of how the district is trying to improve the environment for students outside of the classroom and increase school attendance. However, the program is costly. The school district currently hires 1,400 people to work about 25 hours a week at $10.50 an hour to protect students on the way to and from school.
School safety is not only important in terms of the actual benefit it brings to student well-being and protection, but also in terms of the way the perception of whether a school is safe affects public school attendance in a choice-friendly educational environment. A recent poll revealed that parents consider school safety and climate more important than test scores when it comes to deciding on schools. And concerns about school safety and environment remains the top reasons parents choose to home school their children.
School safety issues can be addressed multiple ways, from internal tracking systems such as the SafeSchools software to collaborating with law enforcement agencies to protect students through the employment of school resource officers or other programs. “A safe learning environment is essential for students of all ages. Without it they are unable to focus on learning the skills needed for a successful education and future," marriage and family therapist Gabrielle Applebury wrote in "Why Is School Safety Important.” "When violence is part of the educational setting, all students are affected in some way. Research continues to illustrate children who feel unsafe at school perform worse academically and are more at risk for getting involved in drugs and delinquency.”