Education Vital Signs: Safe From Harm

NRA and guns in schools
The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) popularity has declined since Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre’s press conference this past December, in which he recommended placing armed guards in every school as the only means to prevent school shootings. Forty-eight percent of responders in a Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll taken the week before the press conference viewed the NRA favorably. In a PPP poll given three weeks after the press conference, 42 percent said they viewed the NRA favorably. Fifty percent of participants opposed placing armed guards in schools.
January 2013

Safety, discipline, and climate
A report from Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, “Code of Conduct -- Safety, Discipline, and School Climate,” indicated that participating administrators and teachers find school climate (74 percent), safety (64 percent), and discipline (53 percent) all to be “very important” to student achievement. Seventy-six percent believe in-school suspensions are an effective discipline measure, but only 46 percent support out-of-school suspensions. Fifty-three percent of responders said their schools use schoolwide behavior-management programs, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. Twice as many teachers (40 percent) as administrators (18 percent) said schools pay too little attention to students’ social and emotional development.
January 2013

Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools 
School resource officers (SR0s) and other police presence in schools does more harm than good, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute, "Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools." Students who attend schools with police stationed in the buildings are more likely to be arrested for disciplinary problems that otherwise would have been handled by administrators. As a result, more children are placed in the juvenile justice system, which leads to a higher dropout rate. The study recommends getting rid of SROs and creating schools with high levels of support and structure by caring adults.
November 2011

Breaking Schools’ Rules 
A study of Texas public secondary school students reveals that almost 60 percent of them have been suspended or expelled. Of the 15 percent of those suspended or expelled 11 times or more, almost 50 percent ended up involved in the juvenile justice system. According to “Breaking Schools’ Rules,” a report from the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, only 3 percent of these disciplinary actions were state mandated; 97 percent of the suspensions and expulsions occurred at the discretion of school officials.
July 2011

Zero Tolerance in Philadelphia 
According to a new report, Zero Tolerance in Philadelphia, the city’s zero tolerance policy has actually made its schools less safe, and is responsible for the creation of a “school-to-prison pipeline” within city schools. Philadelphia’s school security force—which the study claims has fundamentally changed the student experience in many schools—is three times larger than the security forces of Pennsylvania’s 19 other school districts combined, despite Philadelphia’s far lower student enrollment. The report claims that Philadelphia’s charter schools have disciplinary policies as harsh as or even harsher than its traditional public schools.
January 2011

National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters 
Save the Children’s "National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters" finds that 38 states and the District of Columbia failed to meet one or more of its four requirements for disaster preparedness: a plan for evacuating kids in child care; plans for reunifying families after a disaster; plans for children with special needs; and an evacuation plan for schools. Seven states – Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, and Wyoming – met none of the standards.
July 2010

Teaching Discipline: A Toolkit for Educators on Positive Alternatives to Out-of-School Suspensions
A new report from Connecticut Voices for Children demonstrates that there are effective means other than out-of-school suspensions to improving school discipline, including support for positive behavior, mentoring, peer mediation, detention, restitutions, parent meetings, and fostering student engagement. The report, "Teaching Discipline: A Toolkit for Educators on Positive Alternatives to Out-of-School Suspensions," showcases examples of alternatives to out-of-school suspensions used successfully in Connecticut schools, where out-of-school suspensions have dropped from 7.1 percent in 2006-07 to 5.4 percent in 2008-09.
June 2010

Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools 
"Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools," a preliminary look at findings from the National Center for Education Statistics’ School Survey on Crime and Safety for school year 2007-08, shows 48 percent of schools reporting at least one student threat of physical attack. The highest rate of violence occurred in middle schools. The lowest rate of violence occurred in high schools. The rate of violence in America’s middle schools is twice as high as in its high schools.
May 2009

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008 
Schools may be less violent than in the past, but that does not mean they are safe, according to a study released by the Departments of Education and Justice. According the report, "Indicators of School Crime and Safety," 86 percent of public schools experienced at least one violent incident in 2005-06, and one third of all students reported being bullied.
April 2009

Emergency Preparedness Online, Fifth Edition 
Bridge Multimedia of New York City, a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Coalition, has created a new free online emergency preparedness resource guide “30 Days, 30 Resources,” that features articles, guides, lists, and links to timely facts regarding disaster readiness for homes, schools, businesses, and more. Emergency Info Online was developed as a method of disseminating information regarding emergency preparedness, particularly as it relates to individuals with disabilities.