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Members of the Chicago Teachers Union adopted the agreement reached with the Mayor that provides significant new benefits for students. This is now known as “Bargaining for the Common Good.”

Chicago Teachers Union

STATEMENT:
For Immediate Release| ctulocal1.org

CONTACT: Chris Geovanis, 312-329-6250, 312-446-4939 (m), ChrisGeovanis@ctulocal1.org

CTU members vote overwhelmingly to accept tentative agreement

New contract includes historic language to cut class sizes, put nurse and social worker in every school.

CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2019—Chicago Teachers Union members voted today to accept the tentative agreement they won in the wake of their historic eleven day strike.

With eighty percent of schools reporting, members have voted 81 percent yes to ratify the new contract with CPS.

The union won powerful gains for students and their school communities.

Those gains include mandatory class size caps and enforcement, language forcing CPS to comply with special education laws and regulations, sanctuary school protections for immigrant and refugee students, and supports for thousands of homeless students. While today most schools have a nurse barely one day a week, the contract will provide schools with a nurse and a social worker in every school every day. The union also won another freeze on charter expansion, and additional funding for staff that include librarians and counselors, who now must be allowed to serve only as counselors, not recess supervisors, test proctors or substitute teachers.

The contract will also, at last, lift up teaching assistants, school clerks and other paraprofessionals out of poverty.

“This contract is a powerful advance for our city and our movement for real equity and educational justice for our school communities and the children we serve,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. We live in one of the richest cities in the wealthiest nation in the world, and finally Chicago must start investing in the future of our city—our children.”

Moving forward, the union has put some of CPS’ most harmful and inequitable education policies squarely in its sights—including ending CPS’ discriminatory ‘student-based budgeting’ formula and the district’s racist school ranking system called SQRP. That includes the union’s effort to win passage in Springfield for an elected, representative school board, a bill that the House and Senate leadership have vowed to move this spring and the governor has promised to sign, restoring to Chicagoans the same democratic rights that voters in every other school district in the state possess. The union is also pushing legislation to restore CTU members’ bargaining rights, which were stripped away in 1995 with the imposition of mayoral control over CPS.

“Our contract fight was about the larger movement to shift values and priorities in Chicago,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. “Working class taxpayers in Chicago have paid for skyscrapers that most will never visit—but a school nurse is someone their child in need can see on any day. In a city with immense wealth, corporations have the ability to pay to support the common good.”

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in schools funded by City of Chicago School District 299, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.

Jan Resseger is one of the keenest analysts of the assault on public education today.

In this post, she reviews Andrea Gabor’s excellent article in Harper’s magazine about the privatized district of New Orleans.

She begins:

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in September of 2005, I was serving in the Justice & Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination, as the point person tracking and staffing work in UCC congregations to support justice in public education. My job was to help our churches support equal opportunity and access to quality education and to ensure that members of our congregations understood the importance of the First Amendment separation of church and state in public schools.

In the autumn and winter of 2005, our office worked with partners in New Orleans to advocate for policies that would protect New Orleans’ most vulnerable citizens during the hurricane recovery.  Early in the fall of 2005, it wasn’t apparent that the city’s public schools would be affected, but weeks later the state intervened to take over the majority of the schools under a Louisiana law that had been amended to permit the broad takeover. All of the school district’s teachers were put on disaster leave, and on March 24, 2006, all of the school district’s teachers were dismissed or forced to retire.

My job included writing a September, beginning-of-school resource for UCC congregations. Its purpose was to highlight primary challenges to justice in our nation’s public schools. To research the 2016-2017 Message on Public Education, I traveled for a week in July, 2006 to New Orleans to learn what was happening in the public schools of a devastated city. I talked with the Rev. Torin Sanders, a member of the Orleans Parish School Board, sidelined in the state takeover. I spoke for more than an hour with Brenda Mitchell, the president of the United Teachers of New Orleans, which had been rendered—by state fiat—incapable of protecting even long-serving, tenured teachers. I drove past the former Alcee Fortier High School—previously a public neighborhood high school with open admissions—now seized by the state and turned over to Tulane University to become the selective Lusher (charter) High School, which privileged admission for the children of the staff of Tulane and other universities. And I visited Benjamin Franklin High School, formerly a selective magnet high school, and now a selective charter high school.  While charter schools in the rest of the country were required to accept students through non-selective lotteries, in New Orleans, the emergency had created a rationale for exceptions that created a group of exclusive, selective charter schools.

What I learned during that week was that the majority of public schools in New Orleans—one of the poorest communities in the United States—had been deemed “failing” because of low test scores and that, due to that designation, the state and all sorts of players I did not understand were conducting a disruptive experiment with a new kind of school reform on a group of children whose lives had just been upended in every other possible way.  In October of 2006, Leigh Dingerson, for The Center for Community Change, published a profound resource exploring the same issues.  She called it Dismantling a Community. Later Kristen Buras published Pedagogy, Policy and the Privatized City and other research that helped explain, from the point of view of New Orleans’ teachers and students, what had happened.  But at that time none of us really had the language accurately to characterize what we had watched happening as public education was intentionally collapsed into some kind of experiment.

Naomi Klein helped with the definition in her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, in which she described the sudden takeover of the public schools in New Orleans as the defining metaphor for neoliberal economic reform: “In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid was brought back online, the auctioning off of New Orleans’ school system took place with military speed and precision. Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools.  Before Hurricane Katrina, the school board had run 123 public schools; now it ran just 4… New Orleans teachers used to be represented by a strong union; now the union’s contract had been shredded, and its forty-seven hundred members had all been fired… New Orleans was now, according to the New York Times, ‘the nation’s preeminent laboratory for the widespread use of charter schools’…. I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, ‘disaster capitalism.’” (The Shock Doctrine, pp. 5-6)

From this perspective, she reviews Gabor’s recent article.

Audrey Watters is one of the leading voices among those who are concerned about student privacy.

In this post, she notes the growing attention to surveillance of children but observes that some parents are purchasing devices that facilitate surveillance.

Do you want your child to be surveilled by unknown persons and corporations?

State Senator Sam Bell has been concerned about the punitive discipline in the no-excuses Achievement First charter schools, which is primed for a major expansion in Providence.

He toured an Achievement First charter school, and his worst fears were confirmed.

Please read the entire post, which I condensed.

Senator Bell writes:

On Friday, October 18, I toured Achievement First. It was a chilling experience, an experience I’m still processing.

They wouldn’t let me take any pictures or video.

The start time was 7am. I got there at 6:59. I expected a mob of kids rushing to class, but they must have all already gotten there early. I only saw one or two kids, each of them sprinting. Kids, apparently, fear being late so much that they really aren’t late, despite being forced to wake up at what is an ungodly hour for a middle schooler. My guide, though, was late.

As we started the tour, I noticed black and yellow lines taped on the floor of the hallway. The children, my guide informed me, are all required to walk only on these lines. Several times, I saw adults chastising students for not walking on the lines. Quite literally, students were not allowed to set a toe out of line.

The bathroom doors, I noticed, were all propped open. I asked if it was for cleaning. No, I was told, it was so that the kids in the bathrooms could be watched. They didn’t prop open the toilet stalls, but it still struck me as intensely creepy, a twisted invasion of privacy.

In the classrooms, it was constant discipline. The teachers spewed a stream of punishments, and I often couldn’t even see what the students were doing wrong. The students kept losing points or getting yelled at for things like not looking attentive enough. I can’t imagine what it would be like as a child to be berated constantly, to be forced to never even think of challenging authority. It was, of course, overwhelmingly white teachers berating students of color. (The walls, of course, were plastered with slogans of racial justice.)

The education, if you can call it that, was the most shameless teaching to the test. I was shown what I think was a social studies class, where the children were being drilled to respond to a passage about Rosa Parks like it was a passage on a RICAS ELA test. They were being asked to interpret the passage, not to think critically about what Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott meant for American history and what we can still learn from that act of heroism today.

I was shown another class, where the students were just straight-up practicing to respond to what looked to me exactly like a RICAS short answer question. The teacher went around looking over the kids’ shoulders, basically praising them for checking the boxes of a RICAS grading rubric. (The RICAS grading rubric primarily emphasizes a rigid organizational structure with a single central idea and lots of specific pieces of evidence to support it.) This was far and away the best of the classrooms I saw. It was teaching to the test, yes, but with a teacher who at least showed compassion to the students and focused on building them up instead of tearing them down.

I also saw something they call “IR.” I think it stands for “individual reading,” but I’m not sure. Basically, it was kids sitting quietly and working through exercises in a book. It was the kind of rigid, formulaic make-work that drills kids for taking tests well but does not teach creativity, critical thinking, or passion for learning. It also looked miserable.

Not once did I see a lecture, a group discussion, or a seminar…

And this was what they chose to show me, this was what they showed a critic, this was a hand-picked tour to promote what they do. Although I asked to see one of the computerized teaching classrooms, my guide was unwilling to show me one. I did see posters telling kids to put on their noise-cancelling headphones, open their computer, be quiet, and work through their exercises. To her credit, my guide did basically admit to me that the computerized teaching system was kind of a mess. She said that kids are allowed to opt out of it to do book exercises instead and are no longer forced to wear noise-cancelling headphones if they don’t want to.

I did see several classrooms where the students were taking quizzes on laptops. This of course would be great preparation for taking a computerized standardized test. It struck me how often I saw this, and I wondered how much of the time must have been taken up by practicing taking tests.

Despite the policing of facial expressions, I saw some of the most jarringly sad faces I have seen in a very long time. I remember the look on one young woman’s face. She had been sent out of the classroom. I’m not sure why. I think she was a rebel. She was one of the very few I ever saw not walk on the lines taped into the floor. Her face was contorted into a shockingly intense frown. It almost looked like a caricature of a frown, the sort of frown one might see on an overly dramatic actor on TV but not in real life. My guide saw something different, raving about “faces of joy.”

At one point, rounding a corner, I heard a child scream. I don’t know what was happening, and my guide quickly rushed me away.

What was most missing was social interaction. When were the students supposed to talk to each other? To form meaningful friendships? To flirt and begin exploring romance? And it wasn’t just the lack of small group discussion in the classes or the strict discipline that stopped the students from talking in class. Even in the pep rally I witnessed, the kids weren’t talking to each other. If they tried to, a teacher would appear immediately to discipline them. I saw one kid quickly whisper to another and get away with it once. That was it. Even in the hallway, they weren’t talking. They just marched through the halls on the lines taped into the floor, enduring a stream of rebukes for minor offenses like leaving too large a gap between students.

On a human level, it was hard for me to take. When people tell stories about Providence school tours so bad they are moved to tears, I usually think they’re exaggerating. But I couldn’t stop tearing up at Achievement First, and I had to keep dabbing my eyes with a tissue. Now, I did have the ducts that drain my tears plugged to treat dry eye, so I do cry quite easily. But still….

After what I saw, I can easily see how this approach is great at producing amazing test scores. If you focus solely on test-prep and brutal discipline, yes you will boost test scores. Learning how to do well on a RICAS ELA test is learning how to think the way the test wants you to think. It’s learning not to think different. It’s learning to take the least challenging answer. It’s learning to sit still and robotically churn through boring and pointless questions.

But the human cost is so high. At what point is it worth subjecting kids to such misery? Even if the “achievement” were real learning, would it be worth the misery it takes to achieve it? Putting kids under that kind of stress dramatically increases the risk of lasting mental health damage.

Achievement should not come first. Children should come first.

Achievement First is planning on expanding. They’re asking to open a high school, and now they’re asking for a new elementary school, too. Some politicians, parents, student advocates, teachers, and unions have timidly objected to the funding Achievement First rips away from the already suffering public schools. But for me, the money pales in comparison to the raw human pain. Cruelty towards children is just plain wrong. It’s about people, not numbers in a spreadsheet.

Sometimes, overly mild rhetoric is irresponsible. We have to think carefully about the language we use. Words matter. If we water down Achievement First to a budgetary issue, then the Mayor of Providence will feel justified in letting them expand as long as better charter schools are prevented from opening or expanding in Providence. Instead, we must condemn Achievement First as a fundamentally immoral institution.

Half measures are not enough. No expansion is acceptable. Instead, we must talk about a turnaround plan to revamp and fundamentally reform these schools, returning actual learning to the classrooms, ending cruel discipline, and respecting the human rights of the students. And no turnaround plan will be real, no reforms will be lasting, without replacing the toxic administrators currently in charge with turnaround leaders who have true compassion for the students.

 

 

 

Bob Shepherd, our resident scholar, wrote this insightful comment:

Anyone who has taught high-school kids knows that they are extremely emotionally unstable. It’s a difficult time. It’s the time in which we all struggle with establishing an identity that will be acceptable to/accepted by the others around us. One way in which kids do that is by rebelling against their parents and teachers and older authorities in general. This rebellion can take forms both positive and negative.

On the positive side, many turn to resistance against how older people have messed things up for them–have given them human-caused climate change or dying oceans or Trump and his stupid wall. On the negative side, many turn to destructive behaviors of which older people disapprove–drinking and drugs and petty theft (shoplifting) and dangerous sexual experimentation for which they are not ready physically or emotionally. High-school kids tend to be extreme about everything–extremely idealistic and extremely inclined to go further, in their beliefs about the world, than their actual knowledge and experience rationally allow. They are sensitive and volatile and more than a little bit crazy, like caged tigers.

For a long time, great teachers in the humanities (English, history, art, theatre, music, languages) and in the sciences approached as a humane undertaking were able to harness that youthful idealism, that desire to define themselves as change agents over and against the adult world. In every classroom, there is the overt curriculum and then there are the hidden curricula that get taught incidentally. An extremely important part of the hidden curriculum in those classes in high school was always that a great teacher would use great cultural products from the past to harness that idealism and desire for an identity: “I am a writer, a musician, a linguist, a historian, a biologist, in the making,” the student would learn to say of him or herself. “I am Yolanda the poet.” An English class in which the overt curriculum as, say, study of Slaughterhouse Five, would become one in which, because the class was focused on what authors had to say, the hidden curriculum taught that people do (and rationalize to themselves) really stupid and evil things in war. And the kids would get all fired up about that. One in which the overt curriculum as American literature of the Puritan Era would become one in which the hidden curriculum taught Puritan values like individualism and local government and rebellion against tyranny and the horrors that can occur when people don’t practice acceptance and toleration (e.g., the genocide against the indigenous population in the Americas). And because kids were getting something from it–a sense of their own identity or a purpose or cause to be fired up about, they would learn that learning itself was of value. And what would last and be important from that high-school experience–what would not, perhaps, bear its fruit for years but would, indeed, bear fruit, would be that learning.

Not so now. English class has become all about applying item x from the Gates/Coleman bullet list to text snippet y in preparation for the ALL IMPORTANT test that will determine whether the kid will be acceptable for advancement. Kids have been robbed, by Ed Deform, by this testing mania, of humane education, of the hidden curriculum that taught them, most importantly, to become intrinsically motivated, life-long learners. No one ever got fired up by a set of test prep exercises.

We have an epidemic, now, in the US of high-school kids who are extraordinarily stressed out, who don’t see a future for themselves, who cut themselves and suffer from depression and anorexia, who commit suicide. If you teach in a high-school, you see this all the time, but especially at the end of the year, as testing season approaches. The kids, having been herded and cajoled and threatened all year; having spent a year sitting in class for an hour, getting up and moving for three minutes, sitting in another, and doing this six or seven times a day; now face the very real prospect of failure on invalid, capricious standardized tests, and they are stressed, stressed, stressed and ANGRY. The testing is AN ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN.

An entire generation of students has now been subjected to the standards-and-testing regime. And the results are in. We now KNOW that it has fulfilled NONE of its promises. It hasn’t improved learning outcomes. It hasn’t closed achievement gaps. But it has narrowed and distorted curricula and pedagogy and made our children SICK.

Enough. Standardized testing is a vampire that sucks the lifeblood out of education. Put a stake in it.

 

New Orleans is supposed to be the lodestar of the Corporate Reform Movement (or as I call it, the Disruption Movement), but the experiment in privatization is a costly failure, as Tom Ultican demonstrates in this post.

The old, underfunded school system was corrupt and inefficient. The new one is expensive, inefficient, and ethically corrupt because of its incessant boasting about what are actually very poor results.

Comparisons between the old and new “systems” are dubious at best because Hurricane Katrina dramatically reduced the enrollment from 62,000 to 48,000. As Bruce Baker pointed out in reviewing a recent puff study, concentrated poverty was significantly reduced by the exodus of some of the city’s poorest residents, who resettled elsewhere.

Ultican cites Andrea Gabor’s studies of the New Orleans schools to show that the lingering heritage of segregation and disenfranchisement has been preserved in the new all-charter system. The schools that enroll the most white students have selective admissions and high test scores. The majority of schools are highly segregated and have very low test scores.

Be sure to open this link and scroll down to “Individual School Performance,” where you will see that the majority of charter schools in BOLA perform well below the state average.

Do not look to New Orleans for lessons about school reform. But do admire it as a shining example of propaganda and spin paid for by Bill Gates and other billionaires who don’t like public education, democracy, or local school boards.

 

Here is news you can use! Carol Burris and Leonie Haimson now have a regular one-hour radio show on WBAI In New York. The show is called TALK OUT OF SCHOOL, and it will appear weekly. WBAI is part of the progressive Pacifica Network.

In their first show, they discussed student privacy, a subject on which Leonie is a national advocate and expert, and they analyzed current controversies about diversity, selective admissions, and racial integration, a subject where Carol has extensive experience as principal of a detracked high school on Long Island.

Leonie is executive director of Class Size Matters and co-founder of the national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. Carol is executive director of the Network for Public Education.

Next week, Leonie will interview civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker.

Of this you can be certain, this show will be a place to hear talk that is characterized by experience, common sense, and wisdom.

 

 

Education is always ablaze with the latest fad (think “grit,” “think “self-esteem,” think “character education,” think “growth mindset,” think a hundred other hot topics).

Now it is “social and emotional learning.” You might think that SEL is simply built into the classroom experience. But no, there is now a demand from some quarters to teach it as a separate activity or even subject.

Peter Greene has a few choice words on the subject.

With Peter Greene, experience and common sense go a long way.

He begins:

 

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has been gathering traction as a new education trend over the past few years. Back at the start of 2018, EdWeek was noting “Experts Agree Social-Emotional Learning Matters, and Are Plotting Roadmap of How To Do It.” But as we head into the new year, many folks still haven’t gotten far beyond the “it matters” stage in their plotting.
I’m here to teach you how to be human.
That’s the easy part. We can mostly agree that SEL matters; in fact, we ought to agree that it already happens in classrooms. It’s impossible to avoid; where children are around adults, SEL is going on. Asking if SEL should occur in a classroom is like asking if breathing should happen in the room. The real question is whether or not it should occur in a formal, structured, instructed and assessed manner. That is the question that starts all the arguments. We can break down the arguments by asking the same questions we ask about any content we want to bring into the classroom.
Why do we want to teach this?
Some SEL proponents have developed a utilitarian focus. Summarizing the work of the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development, EdWeek said “social-emotional learning strategies center on research that has linked the development of skills like building healthy peer relationships and responsible decision making to success inside and outside the classroom.” But what happens if we approach what used to be called character education with the idea that it’s useful for getting ahead? Doesn’t SEL need to be about more than learning to act like a good person in order to get a grade, a job, and a fatter paycheck? Are you even developing good character if your purpose for developing that character is to grab some benefits for yourself?
We can reject that kind of selfish focus for SEL and instead focus on the “whole child,” and treat SEL, as Tim Shriver (co-chair of that Aspen Institute) and Frederick Hess (of the American Enterprise Institute) wrote, as “an opportunity to focus on values and student needs that matter deeply to parents and unite Americans across the ideological spectrum—things like integrity, empathy, and responsible decision making.” But then we find ourselves with another problem.
What do we want to teach?
If we’re going to adopt SEL in order to essentially teach students to be better people, then who will decide what “better” looks like? Is “tolerance” going to be one of the virtues, and if so, does that mean that students must learn to tolerate persons who would not be tolerated by their families (be that married gay folks or strict religious conservatives)? Should students be taught to feel empathy for everyone, from Nazis to sociopaths?
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies five “competencies” for SEL(self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, relationships skills). That framework is widely used, but “explained” with a wide variety of definitions (one resource says it includes “achieving useful goals”). All of them are heavily loaded with value judgments; how many arguments have you been in your life about whether or not something was a “responsible” decision or not? Who decides if a goal is “useful?”
We have been down this exact road before. In the 90s, Outcome Based Education was going to be a great new thing in education, but before it could gain traction, a bunch of folks noticed that it included an element of teaching values, and a large number of parents were certain that was not a job they wanted the schools to do. OBE never recovered. As two articles in this packet from AEI note, much of what comes under the SEL umbrella used to be considered the providence–indeed, the whole point–of religious and faith-based education.
Wherever SEL is implemented, expect a huge fight over what will actually be taught.
He has much more to say on the topic. Read it.

Parents and students demand a seat at the table in Providence as state leaders prepare to take control of district.

https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20190904/students-parents-demand-formal-role-in-state-takeover-plan-for-providence-schools

A group of high school students and Providence parents have filed a motion with the state Department of Education Wednesday demanding a formal role for parents and students to weigh in on the takeover plan for the Providence public schools.

Parents are joined by several youth organizations, including Youth in Action, Providence Youth Student Movement, Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education, and the Providence Student Union.

The group, represented by the Rhode Island Center for Justice, is asking State Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green to ensure parent and student involvement in the plan for improving the city’s schools, the leaders who will implement it, and the goals, progress and criteria for success for the plan.

The groups argue that students and their parents have a clear, strong, personal stake in the success of the district, and have a legal right to participate in decisions about the takeover.

In their motion, the parents, students and community groups are saying to the state: “No one has a greater stake in demanding improvements in the schools than parents and students, and no turnaround will succeed without a clear plan that includes the community.”

Since the U.S. Senate refuses to consider any regulation of guns, some schools are preparing for the next shooter.

In Colorado, students are receiving training in how to respond if they are confronted by an active shooter.

Colorado was the site of the Columbine massacre in a high school and the Aurora massacre in a movie theater. Last May, a student was killed in a charter school in Douglas County.

The gym at Pinnacle High School echoed with laughter and a few cheers Wednesday morning as students took turns tackling a heavily padded man.

While it might have sounded like a game, the orange water pistol in the demonstrator’s hand served as a reminder of what would be at stake if they ever had to use the tactics they were learning on a real assailant.

The Adams County K-12 charter school spent most of the school day having students practice skills such as barricading their classrooms, evacuating the building — and, if necessary, defending themselves. Many schools near Denver and across the country teach the idea of fighting back as one possible option during an attack, but relatively few have students actually practice what they might do if a gunman entered their classrooms.

Clarissa Burklund, president of Pinnacle’s school board, said officials hadn’t discussed having students do more than traditional lockdown drills until this summer. The May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, where three students rushed one of two attackers, showed that teenagers could defend themselves and need to prepare for that possibility, she said.

“I hate that they have to talk about this,” she said with a catch in her voice. “I hate that they live in this society. But they do, and there’s no point in denying it….”

There’s no nationwide tracking of how schools prepare their students for active shooters, but emphasis appears to have gradually shifted from “locks, lights, out of sight,” where students are told to take shelter in their classrooms, to “run, hide, fight,” where they are expected to choose their best option for the situation. Some schools also have started conducting more realistic drills, including the sounds of simulated gunfire, but that practice has spurred controversy, especially when students weren’t aware they were only dealing with a drill.

Little evidence exists to show if one type of active shooter training is more effective than another, and some experts have concerns about emphasizing cases in which students have fought back. The fear is that could encourage students to overlook safer options such as evacuating.