She has been a school social worker for 26 years. To prepare for an armed assailant on school grounds, it is advised that schools create a safety team that includes an administrator, mental health professional, nurse, security officials, educators, and even parents, according to the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers, who jointly published a guide book titled, “Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills.” Andrea Beeman Planning for an active shooter situation should include the adult experience, personal skills, and professional knowledge of food service workers, custodians, and other ESP, says Dan Kivett, a security officer at Citrus Valley High School in Redlands, Calif., and president of the Redlands Education Support Professionals Association (RESPA). “Trainings and drills must be all-inclusive,” says Kivett, an NEA board member. “For example, if bus drivers are parked on campus during an emergency, do they stay or go?” Whether mandatory or not, Beeman advocates for staging an active shooter drill within a month of starting school while communicating policies and procedures with parents. “The start of the school year is when everyone in the education community is reviewing rules and procedures,” she says. “Parents attend open house events and meet with staff. Clearly the people who are the most passionate about public education—teachers and school leaders—have been heard by the courts.” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel also applauded the court’s decision to strike down what he called a “misguided initiative.” “The new law would have only forced teachers to give up these very basic protections and further undermined the ability of districts to recruit and retain high quality teachers,” Van Roekel said. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) sued Corinthian, seeking more than $500 million for its student victims, and more than 200 lawsuits also have been filed in state courthouses. Beeman faithfully meets students in the morning as they exit buses and stays with many of them until they are picked up after last bell and head home. “I escort them to breakfast, lunch, electives, and help them develop soft skills needed to maintain a job after they graduate,” she says. “I can sense when they are experiencing undue stress.
Then again maybe not. The 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado heightened the need for schools to be better prepared to respond to armed assailants and other forms of violence, such as bomb threats. More than 4.1 million students endured at least one lockdown in the 2017-2018 school year. The court did not buy that argument.” “The good guys won one today,” Nixon said. “It’s heartening that the court could see that the legislature’s actions haven’t exactly been above board.” In addition to taking legal action, North Carolina educators were proactive in educating the public about the realities surrounding teachers’ job status and protections. Veteran teacher Rich Nixon, one of the six plaintiffs in the suit, said the drumbeat against due process was started by lawmakers who are more determined to silence teacher voices than improve public education. “No one has ever told me, ‘You know, if we get rid of career status, schools will homework market be a lot better off,” Nixon recalls. “This was the crux of the state’s case – that stripping what they call tenure was critically important to help improve schools. For example, principals must add an applicant’s ethnicity to the hiring application as a way to keep track of who’s applying for teaching positions.
Judge Hobgood also halted implementation of this provision. Audrey Murph-Brown Springfield, Massachusetts Audrey Murph-Brown is a member of the Springfield Education Association (SEA) in Massachusetts. In September, the U.S. In a state where education funding has been slashed and teacher pay ranks 46th in the nation, NEA President Van Roekel urged North Carolina lawmakers to direct their attention to those issues that will actually help improve schools. “We’re at risk of losing an entire generation of students who won’t get a second chance. It’s been slow going, “but it’s more than what’s ever happened before,” says Murph-Brown.
The group focused on building a diverse and culturally proficient environment for educators of color, and when the opportunity arose to speak to school board members during a public meeting, they did. “They’ve never had a collective raised voice before and we were bold,” recalls Murph-Brown, referring to the school committee. This expansion has spurred an increase in the number of school districts conducting drills. “Drills really help staff consider the “what if” scenarios,” says Kivett. “If it’s a hurricane or fire, what do you do? If it’s a shooter, where do you go?” Student Stress While lockdowns may save lives during a real crisis, the drill itself can inflict “immense psychological damage on children convinced that they’re in danger,” according to the Post study. Background Why Are Teachers in North Carolina Being Asked to Swap Due Process for a Pay Raise? If you were an educator in the state that ranks 46th in teacher salaries and have received only a paltry one percent pay raise in five years, the prospect of securing a bonus of $5000 should be welcome news. Educators and their allies filled a school board meeting with signs that read, “Fair Hiring for Everyone” and “No More Nepotism.” After powerful testimony from Murph-Brown and other educators, the door to communication was cracked open, and efforts have been made to level the playing field.
Department of Education recommended expanding the lockdown-only approach for schools, which confined students and staff to their rooms. Shielding her students against a storm of gunfire is something Andrea Beeman hopes she will never experience. Passed by the General Assembly last year and championed by Gov. Teachers in the state can be dismissed for any number of reasons. School administrators were also to identify the top 25 percent of teachers and offer them salary bonuses over time in exchange for surrendering their due process rights and opting in to the four-year contract immediately. Conducting a drill early on will show our emergency preparedness.” With ESP located in all areas of a school campus, even during non-working hours, it is vital that they be included in school crisis plans, Kivett adds.
The suit, filed by a handful of Walden graduate students, alleges that the school has forced students to spend more money on tuition by purposefully dragging out their graduate education. Jesse Hagopian Seattle, Washington Jesse Hagopian teaches ethnic studies and is the adviser to the Black Student Union at Garfield High School in Seattle. Social justice is about distributing resources fairly and treating all students equitably so that they feel safe and secure—physically and psychologically. Dan Kivett Following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., the U.S. Contemplating such a deadly scenario is tempered, she says, by knowing her school’s crisis response team includes administrators, teachers, and education support professionals (ESP) who participate in active shooter drills and have specific roles and responsibilities. “The more collaboration among school staff during a drill, the better prepared we are to keep students safe,” says Beeman, an NEA board member. “My students will need to listen to my directions and trust me in an emergency.” In today’s school climate, active shooter drills are as common as fire drills.
Many school boards and administrators also balked, knowing that providing North Carolina teachers with due process protections prior to dismissal in no way prevented districts from staffing schools with competent and caring educators and improving school quality. About 16 campuses lock down daily, with nine of those incidents related to gun violence or the threat of it, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. These approaches include adapting the “run, hide, fight” model that was originally developed for adults in response to workplace violence. NCAE launched the “Decline to Sign” campaign to urge its members who might fall into the pool of the 25 percent not to accept the four-year contract and to encourage local school boards to pass resolutions in opposition of the contract. In many of its countries, Laureate also has been criticized for spending on marketing, but not on academics. She describes events that happened during the 2017 – 2018 school year as “a perfect storm at the perfect time.” The storm swirled with nepotism, favoritism, and institutional biases that prevented highly qualified educators of color from becoming lead teachers or being offered lateral promotions. “Rarely were those opportunities given to educators of color,” says Murph-Brown. Students in poorly-funded schools don’t have the technology, new books, or art and music programs that create a well-rounded education, while students in affluent areas have the latest academic resources, school counselors, librarians, and more to help them succeed.
Bringing social justice into schools shines a spotlight on all sorts of important societal issues—from the myriad reasons that lie beneath the deep disparity between the suspension rates of black and white students to how current U.S. immigration policy separates families and violates student rights. He’s particularly concerned about playground supervisors and building monitors who may not have been prepared for responding to a range of emergencies, whether caused by humans or by a natural disaster. “People may reactively know what to do in a crisis, but do they know what to do when they’re responsible for dozens of children,” he says. “With a shooter or earthquake or chemical spill, for example, every second lost can be the difference between living and dying.” Any School, Any Time The Educator’s School Safety Network estimates that threats or actual violence happen about 10 times a day in U.S. schools. Teachers in North Carolina have long pointed out that they have never been granted “tenure.” Those who have taught for four years at a proficient level are granted career status, which provides a limited measure of job protection and due process to ensure fair treatment if facing dismissal or demotion proceedings. More than 6,200 lockdowns occurred during the 2017-2018 school year. A report from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence indicates that some drills “foster fear and anxiety” and “can intensify the fear of gun violence children already suffer.” “We encourage immediate access to a counselor in a safe space to ease any stress or anxiety caused by a drill,” says Beeman, who works with high school students with developmental disabilities.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association offered training that led to the establishment of ALANA (African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American) Educators and Allies, an arm of SEA. Pat McCrory, it would have phased out career status and replaced it in 2018 with contracts running as long as four years. Should the need arise, NEA encourages schools to work with local hospitals and mental health agencies to aid students experiencing trauma. Teamwork The NEA 2018 School Crisis Guide includes cafeteria, transportation, maintenance, and health and student service professionals among staff who are vital to a comprehensive approach in preventing unnecessary violence during an emergency, though this is not the case at some schools. “Unfortunately, some ESP may not know what to do because they aren’t trained or fully involved in drills,” says Kivett. “It’s a safety issue that concerns me.” Take Action on Gun Safety: Tell your members of Congress to support the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. Nine out of ten public schools currently conduct active shooter drills, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. We need to focus on what helps students the most, like supporting new teachers, providing ongoing training, paying teachers a decent salary and developing reliable evaluation systems to measure teacher effectiveness,” Van Roekel said. The school committee’s human resource department is looking into better practices within its hiring process, too.
But research and experience consistently shows that a comprehensive approach is needed for school safety programs. The ruling, by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, rejected the state’s argument that stripping career status for educators “was reasonable and necessary to serve an important public purpose.” Six classroom teachers, supported by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and National Education Association (NEA), filed the suit on against the law on December 17 2013. Meet five educators who determined to make a difference in the lives of their students and within their profession by ensuring social justice is a topic that is addressed in their schools. NCAE President Rodney Ellis praised the ruling. “The court said teachers should be protected from politics in the classroom,” Ellis said. “The administrators and teachers whose depositions were part of this lawsuit gave powerful testimony to the importance of due process and reasonable job protections. It is gut-wrenching to even ponder, says Beeman, a paraeducator at Maple Heights High School in Maple Heights, Ohio. Educators were hardly alone in their opposition. Instead, the department now recommends an options-based approach that allows school staff to make more independent decisions about how to protect their students depending on evolving circumstances, such as to evacuate a building rather than stay locked in a classroom.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit also was filed this year in a federal court in Maryland against Laureate Education, a huge for-profit company that owns schools in more than 30 countries, including Walden University in the U.S. A judge in North Carolina ruled on Friday that the state’s repeal of due process protections for teachers was unconstitutional. We are there for them.” Says Kivett: “The point is not to scare students but to do all that is humanly possible to keep them safe in this era of violence.” ‘School Hardening’ Not Making Students Safer, Say Experts A skewed focus on target hardening neglects the time and resources needed to spend on professional development training, planning, behavioral and mental health intervention supports for students, and other best practices. This week, the $30 million fine specifically follows evidence that Corinthian exaggerated job placement rates at its Heald College chain, in one case boasting of 100 percent job placement — but only after removing 60 percent of students from the calculation. Kivett trains security officers and helps to conduct emergency operations planning for the Redlands United School District.
Sadly, a look at schools across the nation makes it clear that fair distribution of resources and equitable treatment don’t always happen.