Home > Uncategorized > Too Good to be True: DeVos Contemplating PBIS as Means of Intervention in Schools

Too Good to be True: DeVos Contemplating PBIS as Means of Intervention in Schools

June 2, 2018

As readers of this blog realize, I am strongly opposed to the idea of solving the problem of school shootings by “hardening” schools. Especially when “hardening” means spending millions of dollars providing more armed guards, more surveillance, introducing airport-like screening, invading the privacy of children by monitoring their on line posts and reading, and building higher fences and installing better door lock. The “hardening” ideas seem to have gained traction, particularly among those who are opposed to any gun control whatsoever and particularly among the GOP. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to read this description of the latest thinking of the “School Safety Commission” in Politico:

SCHOOL SAFETY COMMISSION TO FOCUS ON SCHOOL CLIMATE: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ school safety commission will be in the national spotlight for the first time today. As part of the commission’s work, DeVos is visiting Frank Hebron-Harman Elementary School in Hanover, Md., with a press pool in tow.

DeVos is set to visit a classroom and hear from experts, teachers, school administrators and students on “Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports,” a term for a framework of interventions tailored to the individual needs of students, including those from disadvantaged groups, and designed to support better behavior and more equitable academic outcomes.

The topic of school climate is notable because the White House has said one topic the commission is exploring is whether to repeal Obama-era policies aimed at ending racial disparities when it comes to school discipline. House Republicans have said the Obama policies contributed to law enforcement’s failure to identify and stop the school shooter in Parkland, Fla., who killed 17 — an assertion adamantly denied by school officials.

Investing in PBIS or other structured behavioral management systems would be a far more effective use of dollars than hiring SROs or creating school police forces. As the title of this post indicates, the notion that Betsy DeVos would advocate PBIS seems too good to be true… I am not ready to exhale just yet, however.

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