Archives for category: Safety

Fruitport, Michigan, will open a new high school designed to offer safe spaces in the event that an active shooter appears on campus.

It is quite a commentary on the state of our society.

The design of the new sections includes subtle safe spaces that can be used to protect students in the event of a shooting, and long curved hallways that would offer protection too.

“To cut down on the sight lines if we have an active shooter in the building,” Szymoniak said.

By reducing the sight lines anyone with malicious intent would be unable to see the entire length of the hallway.

Cement block bump outs are also placed in the curved hallways.

“To cut down on sight lines further, it also gives an opportunity for students to hide back behind and hopefully get help from within the classroom,” Szymoniak said.

Inside the classrooms students can hide in one corner that can’t be seen from the hallway. Access controlled locks on all of the doors in our school district give school leaders the ability to lock down the entire district with the push of one button. And impact resistant film will go on all classroom windows in the new high school.

Szymoniak says by adding layers of safety it will buy students, teachers and staff time and it will protect lives as police respond to the scene.

“These are going to be design elements that are just naturally part of buildings going into the future,” he said.

The new normal?

Two first-grade children found a gun in an unlocked case in South Bloomfield Township last spring.

Highland Local Schools officials were alarmed to learn that a gun used as part of a concealed carry program to protect students was found by two first-grade students who removed it from its unlocked case.

The incident played out in mid-March in an administrative office beside Highland Elementary School in South Bloomfield Township near Sparta, but only recently came to light. It has reignited in this Morrow County district — located about 40 miles north of Columbus — a debate over whether teachers and school staff should be armed to protect students from active shooters.

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“My feeling is that (guns) don’t belong in schools,” said Wayne Hinkle, board president of Highland Local Schools, who was the lone opponent of the concealed carry policy enacted by the five-member board a year ago. “You don’t need them.”

Highland Elementary is a short walk to the district’s transportation office, where Vicky Nelson, transportation director, had left her pistol in a small unlocked plastic case near her desk when she left to go to the restroom.

Nelson was trained as part of the district’s concealed carry program and allowed to have a gun on school property.

Someone thought it was a good idea to have guns in schools.

Superintendent Freund, a teacher and administrator for 50 years, said he “became physically sick” when he learned of the March incident. “People were horrified,” he said.

As the district reviews its program, which includes several administrators and “select teachers,” he reminds people that critical incident medical response is 20 minutes away from his district of 1,800 students.

“If someone were to get in with an AR (assault-style rifle capable of firing dozens of rounds in seconds), we’re talking devastation,” he said. “Is it worth the risk to carry and prevent that?”

Can a handgun stop an AR-15?


The New Yorker magazine published this very informative and important article by journalist Paige Williams about training bystanders to save lives. 

Bystanders can and must be first responders, and they can learn the techniques to stop bleeding. These are crucial as a person can bleed to death in five to eight minutes.

It is a sad commentary on our society but it is reality: none of us knows when we will be the bystander whose fast thinking and action are required to save the life of a friend or a stranger.

The number of shootings and acts of terrorism has escalated and is now called an “Intentional Mass Casualty Event.”

Williams begins with a dramatic account of one of these events at a high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

“One April morning in 2014, a sixteen-year-old sophomore at Franklin Regional Senior High, in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, stole two butcher knives from his parents’ kitchen, hid them in his backpack, and took them to school. He was wearing all black and, according to witnesses, had a “blank expression.” Just before first period, in the hall of the science wing, he stabbed several classmates. Then he pulled the fire alarm. As the corridor filled with people, the boy moved down the hallway, a knife in each hand, stabbing more students. He turned and raced back up the hall—an administrator remembered him “flailing the knives like he was swimming the backstroke.” One girl later testified, “I could feel that my lip wasn’t attached to my face anymore.” A boy, stabbed in the belly, recalled, “I was gushing blood.”

“The students at Franklin Regional, which is seventeen miles east of Pittsburgh, had been trained to lock themselves inside classrooms during a “code red” event. In one room, a home-economics teacher called 911 as she attended to an injured boy. A dispatcher asked where the “patient” had been hurt. “The lower abdomen,” the teacher said. “On the right side.”

“Do you have any way to control the bleeding?” the dispatcher asked.

“I’m putting pressure on it,” the teacher said. She was stanching the blood with paper towels. This was helpful, the dispatcher told her, saying, “If it starts soaking through, I don’t want you to lift it up at all. Find anything else you can to put on top of that.”

“The teacher had been applying pressure for about four minutes when the dispatcher said, “We have the actor in custody,” adding, “But I don’t want you to let any of your students leave that room.” As the teacher bore down on the wound, she talked with the injured boy, her voice tense but cheerful. They joked that he could use the experience in a college-application essay. When he predicted that his mother was going to “have a panic attack,” the teacher said, “I think she will.” Then she said, “I never thought I’d have to do this….”

“Twenty-one people had been knifed, several severely, yet everyone survived. (The attacker was later sentenced to a minimum of twenty-three and a half years in prison.) Law-enforcement and health-care professionals in the Pittsburgh area took note of the fortitude and the competence of many bystanders. Listening to a playback of the teacher’s 911 call, they marvelled at her calm and her effectiveness. Brad Orsini, an F.B.I. agent who worked the case, told me, “You’d have thought it was just another day for this woman.” At one point, the teacher had told the boy, “You know what? Sometimes when stuff happens, you go into a different state of mind. You surprise yourself at how you can handle things.”

Please read this article. You may be called upon to save a life one day.

This post about D.C. charter schools asks why these schools are free to choose which laws to obey and which to ignore.

One that they chose to ignore is suicide prevention training for their staff.

The leaders of the charter sector complained about the rules and regulations that the city wanted to impose on them.

The author, Jonetta Rose Barras, writes:

“When I read the email exchange between Michael Musante, a lobbyist for local charter schools, and Scott Pearson, executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB), I became enraged. I think, perhaps, you would have had a similar reaction.

“In discussing the introduction of the Youth Suicide Prevention Act in the DC Council, Pearson wrote on Sept. 22, 2015, “Unbelievable. Does it ever stop?”

“I wouldn’t be able to take trips to Europe every summer if it stopped,” Musante replied in the email chain, a copy of which was provided to The DC Line.

“I guess we can just add it to the pile of requirements that don’t get enforced,” replied Pearson about the law created to protect District schoolchildren.”

A 12-year-old student at the SEED charter school hung herself in 2018. This was one of those “miracle” schools celebrated in the propaganda film “Waiting for ‘Superman,'” which is now streaming on Amazon and other services. Did the child’s parent see the film and win the lottery to get her into this boarding school, which costs the District nearly $40,000 per year?

The parent of the child is suing the school and the foundation that operates the school for negligence.

Charter school leaders seem to be against any regulations, suggesting that they interfere with their independence. They currently are fighting a legislative proposal introduced by Ward 6’s Charles Allen that would subject all charter schools to the city’s existing open meetings and Freedom of Information Act requirements. That proposal doesn’t go far enough, however. It’s time to reassess the exemptions provided to charter schools, imposing many of the same regulations that apply to DC Public Schools.

Should a charter school be free from all regulations, all accountability, all transparency, even regulations protecting the lives of children?

Apparently, charters believe that they are above the law and outside of any accountability for their finances or their students’ lives. The laws and regulations are for other people, not them.




Jim Scheurich is a professor at Indiana University and a public education activist. He writes here about how School Choice is intended to destroy community.


Folks, the philosophy that charter and innovation schools are built on is that your children’s school should be individualized parental choice.  This means parents individually search across the Indy area as to where to send their children, which often means leaving their neighborhood community.  Each family or individual parent is thus on her, his, or their own and not engaged with their neighborhood community.  Also, each family or individual parent is pitted against or in competition with other similar families and parents for the so-called “better” schools.

This individualistic orientation of charters and innovation schools undermines neighborhood communities and even the possibility of neighborhood communities.   Undermining neighborhood communities, according to sociological research, increases violence, including murder.  Other research shows that building community decreases violence, including murder.

This, therefore, means that charter and innovation schools are likely one of the causes of our high murder rate in Indianapolis as the individualized school choice model is broadly undermining neighborhood communities across our city. 

Of course, building community in low income areas is not easy, but not impossible.  However, many such communities have created positive community spaces.  Given the difficulty of creating such communities, we certainly do not need more policies, like charter and innovation schools, that are threats to community and community building.

If you study the neoliberal political and economic “philosophy” behind the choice school movement, you will find a strong focus on individualism over community.  If you want to understand this movement, which is driving the creation of individualistic “choice” schools, read Democracy in chains by Nancy MacLean, a Duke historian, and then read the award winningDark money by Jane Mayer, which analyzes who the Koch brothers are as they are primary supporters of neoliberalism.  Indeed, overwhelmingly, the financial supporters of neoliberalism, the people behind the curtain, the people funding Stand for Children and the Mind Trust, are conservative to rightwing billionaires.

If you don’t believe me or think I am just some conspiracy nut, I dare you to read Democracy in chainsby the highly respected Duke historian, Nancy MacLean. I dare you.

My point is that charter and innovation schools help destroy community, which according to sociological research can lead to increased violence.


Jim Scheurich, Indianapolis Public Schools Community Coalition, a multi-racial, multi-class, citywide group of Indianapolis citizens working to reverse the takeover of our school district by those funded by white, conservative or rightwing, billionaire neoliberals. Also, an activist professor of Urban Education Studies at Indiana University – Indianapolis







Tim Slekar produced a podcast about school shootings and their aftermath.

Two survivors of the Parkland mass shooting committed suicide, as did the father of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook.

Tim describes the podcast:

“Parkland, FL mother Rosemarie Jensen.  Rosemarie’s son survived the Stoneman Douglas school shooting and talked to us last year about that day.  In this interview Rosemarie talks about the aftermath of living “after a school shooting.”  Last week two “survivors” committed suicide.  But WHY?  And what’s being done now?

“Educated Educators Talking Education:Joanna Rizzotto talks to us about life inside the classroom “after school shootings.” Are we making it safer or simply adding to the anxiety of children and teachers.  Plus we talk to Dou Vang—currently a substitute teacher— who quit teaching after being “shot” during an active shooter drill.

In the Public Interest is a nonpartisan organization that tracks the privatization of public services and assets.

Its latest report:

Is school security the next gold rush? A year after the harrowing school shooting in Parkland, Florida, investor cash is pouring into the school security market. But big money was already being spent on unproven technology shielded from public view. “Schools and other education-related buyers are the fifth-biggest market for surveillance systems across the world but the top market in the United States, with $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017.” The Washington Post

A warning to D.C.’s education leaders. A former board member at Indianapolis Public Schools describes her experience working with former superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee, who also happens to the D.C. mayor’s choice for the next D.C. Public Schools chancellor: “Under Dr. Ferebee’s leadership, we created ‘Innovation Network Schools’— partnerships between IPS and charter schools. But it turned out that Innovation Network Schools aren’t really partnerships at all. In fact, they’re an underhanded way of turning over public resources and assets to private hands.” 730DC

Huge salaries for charter school leadership. Journalist Rachel Cohen digs into charter school administrator salaries in Washington, D.C., revealing startling figures: “The head of Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School and the highest-paid charter official in D.C., received a 24 percent salary increase between 2015 and 2016, from $248,000 to $307,000. Then, in 2017, she received another 76 percent increase, bumping her compensation to $541,000.” Washington City Paper

Police in school don’t make students of color feel safer. Rann Miller of the 21st Century Community Learning Center critiques the final report from President Trump’s Federal Commission on School Safety: “The recommendations from Trump’s school safety panel benefit school privatizers, and institutions like prisons, at the expense of people of color. It’s the American way.” The Progressive

“Wherever there’s a battle over public education lately, a billionaire is somehow involved.” Jacobin Magazine weighs in on the upcoming Oakland teachers strike: “Although charter schools don’t improve student outcomes, they have all sorts of destructive impacts. As noted above, they massively drain resources from public schools. In the 2016–17 school year alone, Oakland Unifed School District lost over $57 million in revenue to charter schools, according to a report by In the Public Interest.” Jacobin

ICYMI: the U.S. spends more on its prison system than it does on public schools. The country’s incarceration rates have more than tripled over the past three decades, even as crime rates have fallen. During the same period, government spending on K-12 education increased by 107 percent. Daily Mail

Linda Darling Hammond writes that arming teachers and expelling students will not make schools safer. It might make them dangerous.

“In response to the rash of school shootings in the United States, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is now considering allowing states to use federal funds to put guns in schools, training and arming marshals and teachers.

“The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (under Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act) are intended to expand and improve student learning, not to buy guns. They are used by school districts for implementing school-based social, emotional, and mental health services and support as well as dropout prevention programs. They are used to help ensure that students from low-income families have access to technology as well as to advanced coursework, and college and career counseling. In short, these funds are intended to help to create schools where all students are seen, supported, and valued.

“Siphoning off those funds to put guns in schools won’t make students safer and it won’t improve academic achievement. In fact, in school shooting incidents, 95 percent of attackers were current students at the school and of those, 71 percent said that they felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others prior to taking action. By contrast, in schools that focus on social-emotional learning and offer mental health supports, evidence shows that students feel and are safer, interpersonal relationships are stronger, bullying and fighting are reduced, and achievement and graduation rates are higher. Where students are supported and taught to be caring and responsible, these students can be helped, protected, and redirected to productive futures.”

How does a parent react when he sends his beloved little one to school in small town America, where everyone knows their neighbors, and gets a text message that the schools are in lockdown? How does the parent write about it when he is a novelist who writes novels for adolescents?

Rob Kent tells the story of the lockdown in Noblesville, Indiana.

“I ran all the way home.

“I got online to read the news.

“God didn’t let my baby be murdered today. Or there is no God and I got lucky. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the Indiana in me, but I needed God to be real today and today She was.

“When I read the news, I saw the shooter had already been apprehended. And it was the middle school, not the elementary school that had been attacked. So my baby was probably okay… probably.

“It’s Little Ninja’s first full year of school. And he loves it. His teacher is truly one of the best human beings I’ve ever met. Hands down, Mrs. Sarah Dodson is a better person than I am. She has infinite patience and limitless love for her students. Every parent-teacher conference we’ve had, she’s expressed love for my son and for her job and if it were up to me who Noblesville, Indiana built our next statue of, it would be her. My son has some special needs that have worried me a whole lot, and Little Ninja has made so much progress under her tutelage. I tagged along on a field trip on a rainy October day to a pumpkin patch and I personally witnessed Mrs. Dodson muddy and exhausted, but still filled with enthusiasm for her students. When I think of the great teachers of the world, I will always think of Mrs. Dodson.

“Today, I saw Mrs. Dodson cry. Who would do that to so wonderful a woman? Who would make her hurt? What unjust, cruel, uncaring God would look down from Her heaven and allow that to happen?

“I won’t pretend to remember everything that happened this morning. It’s all a blur of panic, but I remember thinking, please, Lord, make that son of b**ch Marco Rubio hurt. Let Ayn Rand sycophant Paul Ryan feel this pain (and please, let hell be real so there’s a place for him to burn in after this life). Twist Mitch McConnell’s turtle guts with the evil he’s allowed to befall the people he was supposed to be watching out for. These are bad men, Lord, and enemies of the American people who sold their souls to the NRA and let innocent children be murdered so they could collect campaign contributions. They are worms crawling bare-bellied in the dirt and beneath my contempt.

“I know this. Every American who reads the news knows this.

“And you go straight to hell, Senator Todd Young of Indiana, who came to Noblesville to offer your empty thoughts and prayers when we know you accepted $2,896,732 in contributions from the NRA. You give up every cent of blood money you’ve taken and dedicate the rest of your life to making this right and maybe we Hoosiers can forgive you. Until then, go f**k yourself.

“I thought of all this today, and of the political tweets I’ve sent and the occasional FB posts I’ve made, but all that makes no difference when there’s a shooter in your community. I haven’t attended any political protests recently (I can’t get a sitter for Black Panther, let alone a protest march).

“All that political rhetoric, all that wasted energy raging about what crooked officials are doing hundreds of miles from here in Washington means exactly f**k all when it’s your child’s school that’s on lock down from a shooter and you get that call in the middle of your morning when you’re supposed to be focused on writing a lovely children’s story and imagining a better world…

“Mrs. Dodson called me as I was watching for Little Ninja’s school bus to tell me the bus wasn’t coming. If I’d stayed home today, if the bus had brought Little Ninja to me as usual, this incident might’ve just been another school shooting on the news. I would’ve still been terrified, but one step removed. Instead, I had to go to the school in person….

“I’m crying as I type this, because I never thought I’d see something like that in little old Noblesville, Indiana. Because that nasty, awful stuff only happens on TV. It doesn’t happen here where I live. That little girl knew she wasn’t safe, hadn’t ever been safe, not really, and I don’t know how she’ll ever feel safe in school again. And her mother couldn’t maintain. Of course, she couldn’t. I couldn’t either. I doubt I’ll ever forget today, but I know that little girl and her mother won’t forget it…

“Esteemed Reader, I’m wrung out. It’s been a long day and my heart has been broken. The school I send my one and only child to everyday was threatened and I can’t ever put Little Ninja on a bus again without wondering if I’m sending a lamb to the slaughter. I doubt any Hoosier parent here in my town will ever take that for granted again.

“What I do know is that we can’t live like this. Don’t kid yourself that this can’t happen where you live. That’s what I thought. America is a land of violence and violence will find you, even in the quiet town of Noblesville, Indiana. Even where you live…

“Esteemed Reader, your children aren’t safe either. Not in the United States.

“And that’s where I should leave it. I don’t know how we fix this. I’m not that smart. We can write to our senators, but I don’t have $2,896,732 to offer them unless y’all buy a whole lot more of my books, and politicians don’t give a sh*t about average people. We know this. They think they’re better than us and they’re wrong, but I’ve seen the members of my fellow populace, and I get it.”

I apologize for abbreviating Mr. Kent’s fine prose, but you are more likely to read his post if I leave out the best parts.

The bottom line is that Senator Todd Young sent “thoughts and prayers” to Noblesville. But he took $2,896,732 from the NRA so the folks in Indiana know the NRA bought him. It’s up to parents to vote him out.

In Idaho, a school went into lockdown, and some parents rushed to the school with their weapons to protect the children. Some brought their AR-15 assault weapons. The police stopped them and asked them not to intervene. The police were rightly fearful that there could be a shootout and a parent might be killed on suspicion that he or she was the shooter. Too many guns at the scene means bullets flying and the possibility of more victims, possibly students, teachers, police, or in this case, parents.

In New York City, where I live, the police don’t like to see civilians with guns. It is illegal and it gets in the way of law enforcement.