Critics: President Trump's school safety commission lacks transparency, urgency
Since the Federal Commission on School Safety's organizational meeting on March 28, only one meeting on May 17 has been held. Considering the number of gun-related incidents at schools in that span of time, critics say the pace of progress is unacceptable, reports Education Week.
The May meeting included school safety experts, those personally affected by school shootings, and advocates from organizations of principals, state chiefs, parents, and school counselors — but no social workers. The panel consists of four cabinet members, none of whom are experts on gun violence.
Transparency is another issue. The May meeting wasn’t open to the public nor press. A video of the meeting, though, was made. Listening sessions held in April were also closed to the press. Suspicion is growing that the panel has already finalized recommendations, the paper reports.
With months to wait for the panel’s recommendations, which Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says will come by year’s end, some schools are putting their own systems into place now.
Leveraging technology is one tactic. Some schools are relying on web filters to scan emails, searches and websites visited, and Google docs. These filters can flag possible signs of a crisis situation developing. Such web filters have averted at least four threats in one Missouri district. (Schools can also use these methods to find lost or stolen digital devices.) “Invisible” protective measures like these can maintain a school’s ethos of being a warm, welcoming environment.
District and school leaders are also increasing their use of security cameras. Cameras throughout a campus, along with real-time monitoring, can allow for quick response to a shooter or other threat. They impart the added benefit of allowing footage to be analyzed after the fact, so that personnel and police can learn from how incidents unfold. Opponents, however, fear that a school filled with cameras and metal detectors may start to feel like a prison, which some say harms trust being students and staff.
Other schools, such as Castlemont High School in Oakland, Calif., are focusing on teaming up with local police. Officers are assigned to a special force, which includes schools as part of their beat. They are trained to use social and emotional learning strategies, especially empathy and communication, to suss out the real cause behind infractions, and then think about a way to help. Their presence has helped to recreate a bond between students and police officers in the community, which had been frayed in recent years.
- EdWeek.org Trump Panel Slammed on Slow Pace of School Safety Work
- Edutopia.org In Oakland, Reinventing School Policing