Experts Question ‘School Safety Clearinghouse’ Mandated by New Gun Reform Law
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The recent gun reform legislation signed by President Joe Biden requires the federal government to establish a new "clearinghouse" of evidence-based school safety practices. However, some experts argue that the current online collection of studies, practices, and grant opportunities has not adequately served educators.
Ken Trump, a school safety expert who advises districts nationwide, points out the significant gap between the federal government and local school principals. He states that educators typically do not turn to the federal government as their primary resource for school safety.
Schoolsafety.gov was launched in 2020 as an extension of the Federal Commission on School Safety, which was created after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Max Schachter, the father of one of the victims, advocated for the updated clearinghouse in the new law.
Under the legislation, the Department of Homeland Security will be responsible for the Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Evidence-based Practices. Some experts suggest that this could result in resources that prioritize "hardening" schools through measures such as armed officers and enhanced security.
Ken Trump questions whether the education departments are truly incapable of handling school safety, highlighting the potential implications of this centralized approach.
The clearinghouse is part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the gun reform law triggered by the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting on May 24, which claimed the lives of 21 individuals, including 19 fourth graders. While some believe that the new law only makes modest progress in terms of gun control, others appreciate its emphasis on mental health services and the expanded definition of school safety.
Meg Caven, a senior research associate at the Education Development Center, acknowledges that the law avoids pursuing the increased militarization of schools. However, she also notes the limited evidence supporting various school safety efforts, pointing out the absence of a one-size-fits-all solution.
This legislation coincides with the release of a recent school violence report, which indicates that there were 93 school shootings resulting in casualties during the 2020-21 school year, the highest number since the government began collecting data in 2000. Many of these incidents occurred on or near school premises while buildings were closed due to remote instruction.
Research suggests that a comprehensive approach to school safety is essential, encompassing physical security measures, violence prevention, and the creation of a welcoming and supportive school environment. However, achieving this balance poses significant challenges for schools and communities.
A 2018 study by Johns Hopkins University revealed limited research on the effectiveness of strategies like controlling access to schools and implementing additional safety hardware.
Adam Lane, the principal of Haines City High School in central Florida, acknowledges the existence of the current clearinghouse but places greater reliance on local sheriff’s deputies who regularly patrol the school and review safety protocols. He values the personal connections and familiarity that he and his students have with these law enforcement officers.
In addition to law enforcement support, Lane’s school of 3,000 students benefits from having 12 counselors, a social worker, and a school psychologist. If provided with additional funding through the new law, Lane would prioritize reducing the caseloads of counselors, which currently stand at 300.
The law allocates approximately $2 billion towards school safety improvements, initiatives to enhance school climate, and student mental health services. Other provisions target the well-being and safety of students and schools.
Title: Exploring the Flourishing School Security Industry: Advanced Technologies Aim to Safeguard Campuses, but Can They Truly Ensure Safety?
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Secure your seat as we delve into the dynamic world of the school security industry, a sector valued at $3 billion. Various companies are actively promoting cutting-edge technological solutions to fortify educational institutions. However, the pressing question remains: can these innovations genuinely guarantee the safety of students and faculty members?
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