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« What Does the Future of Learning Demand of Us?

With the recent US-based school shootings in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, it was not surprising to hear that President Bush had called for a national summit (entitled “School Safety”) of ideas to speak to safety/security issues in US schools. What would come from it — in real terms — was to be determined.

The District Administration magazine offers a decent survey of the event, indicating that it may have sparked idea but no clear decisions were made. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Attorny General Albert Gonzales were in attendance, along with a range of experts from the fields of education, school design, security, etc.

What grabbed our attention, in particular, was Paul Houston’s comments about ‘balance’. Note: Houston is the executive director at the American Association of School Administrators in Arlington, Va. He offered:

Besides developing safety and emergency plans-which some schools still lack-he says educators also need to follow the ABCs of school safety:

  • Awareness: All staff need to be trained on how to recognize and handle potentially dangerous situations at their school, whether it’s a stranger roaming the halls or a strange truck parked in the school’s lot.
  • Balance: Educators need to develop a balanced perspective and approach to school safety. Over-reacting by building a prison like environment in schools can create even bigger safety issues.
  • Control and Connection: School administrators need to control their campuses by connecting with students through staff or school resource officers who work in collaboration with local police.
  • Equally important, we appreciate his reminder that schools should support the very human experience we’re trying to protect in the first place:

    “Schools should be a place of some joy and of a sense of openness,” Houston says. “You want kids not to feel so repressed and beaten down. So you have to have the view of there are some things you can do to marginally make them safer but is the price worth it? I’m not sure it is.”

    In a day and age of increased need for security measures, how do we strike a balance? Your thoughts?

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