Posts Tagged ‘Guns in School’

Researcher Concludes SROs NOT the Way to Go

March 6, 2020 Comments off

F. Chris Curran, an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy, recently researched the implications of having School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools and came to the conclusion that their presence does little to help children… or teachers and administrators. After describing the arrest of two six-year olds as an example, Mr. Curran writes:

While the arrests of the two elementary students in Orlando are not everyday occurrences, they do reflect a body of research that suggests cops in schools – they are formally known as school resource officers, or SROs – can take what would otherwise be a routine school disciplinary situation and escalate it to a whole different level…

School resource officers, who are sworn officers with full arrest powers, are increasingly common in primary schools. Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of primary schools with school resource officers increased 64%. Now, nearly one in three elementary schools has one of these officers at least part-time…

The presence of police in schools has been shown to increase the likelihood that students are arrested for school misconduct. For example, prior research has found that police agencies that get funding for school police increase arrests of youth under age 15 by as much as 21%.

This may be because the presence of police can shift the mindset of schools to one that is more about punishment than it is about teaching students why their behavior is wrong and what they can do to make amends.

This change in mindset is analogous to Mark Twain’s shopworn but applicable aphorism: if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If the mentality of the police department is setting the tone for school discipline, the emphasis will be on punishment and not on changing the behavior of the student who acted out. Mr. Curran concludes his article with the recommendation that policy makers heed the advice of teachers, 94% of whom preferred that school districts hire “…additional mental health professionals, teaching assistants and social workers” to address student misbehavior. He also recommends that if schools want to retain SROs they should be “…given training that emphasizes the developmental stages of students and how to respond to student misconduct” noting that:

Nationally, 93% of school resource officers report training for active shooters. However, only about one third report training in child trauma or the teenage brain.

It’s time for our public schools to re-examine their priorities when it comes to school safety, for as it stands now the emphasis on hardening schools and introducing a punitive police mentality into the lives of young students is preparing them for a world where law enforcement is the only way to exert control.



College Students to Legislators: Ban Facial Recognition Software NOW

March 3, 2020 Comments off

The Guardian published an account yesterday of a series of live and online protests that occurred across the country seeking an end to the use of facial recognition software by colleges and universities. Why? Because the false positives (i.e. students mid-identified as criminals) tend to be students of color. And– worse yet– immigrants are fearful that their misidentification could result in lengthy wrangles with ICE whose data bases are notoriously inaccurate.

I am grateful that some group is organizing this kind of mass action because the use of this technology is increasingly widespread and the general public is not aware that they are being surveilled. The article concludes with this quote from one of the students who organized the protests:

“In the end, it shouldn’t be up to some campus safety officer or even a college president or administrator to make decisions like this without having all the facts or knowing all the potential risks of implementing such a system,” she said. “This underscores the broad need for lawmakers to get off their asses, and do their jobs, and pass legislation to ban the use of this technology.”

If the Democrats want an issue to rally around and to differentiate themselves from the GOP— this is it. 24/7 Surveillance in the name of safety is the road to totalitarian government. Period.

MAYBE the Tide is Turning: Parents and Students Want Counselors, Not Cops

February 19, 2020 Comments off

This Wake County NC news report recounts a parent and student petition to the school district to replace cops in the schools with more counselors and nurses. MAYBE this kind of thinking will go viral.

Common Sense Recommendation from NEA and AFT: End Active Shooter Drills NOW

February 13, 2020 Comments off

The nations two largest teachers unions just issued a press release calling for the end of the active shooter drills that have become a regular feature in most public schools. Their rationale? The drills traumatize children and there is no evidence that they make any difference in the preparedness of schools.

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In Lockport, Fear Wins Out Over Privacy and Facial Recognition is In Place

February 10, 2020 Comments off

I posted earlier about the Lockport (NY) School District’s decision to spend millions of dollars to implement facial recognition software designed by Aegis in its schools, a decision made two years ago that received pushback from several community members, the State Department, and the ACLU. I read this weekend in Davey Alba’s SFGate article that despite these appeals and after addressing the State’s concerns, the district is moving forward with the plan. The ACLU’s spokesperson did an eloquent job of explaining the negative consequences:

“Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces,” said Stefanie Coyle, education counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Reminding people of their greatest fears is a disappointing tactic, meant to distract from the fact that this product is discriminatory, unethical and not secure.”

And make no mistake: fear WAS the selling point and technology was the clear antidote:

Robert LiPuma, the Lockport City School District’s director of technology, said he believed that if the technology had been in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the deadly 2018 attack there may never have happened.

“You had an expelled student that would have been put into the system, because they were not supposed to be on school grounds,” LiPuma said. “They snuck in through an open door. The minute they snuck in, the system would have identified that person.”

…When the system is on, LiPuma said, the software looks at the faces captured by the hundreds of cameras and calculates whether those faces match a “persons of interest” list made by school administrators.

That list includes sex offenders in the area, people prohibited from seeing students by restraining orders, former employees who are barred from visiting the schools and others deemed “credible threats” by law enforcement.

If the software detects a person on the list, the Aegis system sends an alert to one of 14 rotating part- and full-time security personnel hired by Lockport, LiPuma said. The human monitor then looks at a picture of the person in the database to “confirm” or “reject” a match with the person on the camera.

If the operator rejects the match, the alert is dismissed. If the match is confirmed, another alert goes out to a handful of district administrators, who decide what action to take.

The technology will also scan for guns. The chief of the Lockport Police Department, Steven Abbott, said that if a human monitor confirmed a gun that Aegis had detected, an alert would automatically go to both administrators and the Police Department.

So now, the citizens of Lockport can presumably rest easy… that is unless the Aegis software mistakes one of their children as a “person of interest” made by the school administrators… or they resemble anyone on a secret list put together by the administrators and police… or they are a person of color.

In Lockport, black students are disproportionately disciplined. In the 2015-16 school year, 25% of suspended students in the district were black even though enrollment was only 12% black, according to data from the federal Department of Education.

LiPuma, the director of technology, said he believed that Lockport’s system was accurate. He also said he, as well as some other school officials, would like to add suspended students to the watch list in the future, despite the State Education Department’s recent directive that Lockport make it clear in its policy that it is “never” to use the system “to create or maintain student data.” Most school shootings in the past decade, LiPuma said, were carried out by students.

“The frustration for me as a technology person is we have the potential” to prevent a school shooting, he said. “If something happens, I’m not going to feel any better about that, but it wasn’t my decision. That’s on State Ed.”

Jason Nance, a law professor at the University of Florida who focuses on education law and policy, warned that listing students as “persons of interest” could have unintended consequences.

“If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily,” he said, which could lead to a higher likelihood that they could enter into the criminal justice system.

Jayde McDonald, a political science major at Buffalo State College, grew up as one of the few black students in Lockport public schools. She said she thought it was too risky for the school to install a facial recognition system that could automatically call the police.

“Since the percentages for the false matches are so high, this can lead to very dangerous and completely avoidable situations,” McDonald said.

So an unproven technology that has the potential to inaccurately profile potential offenders is being sold to a school district based on the presume put forth by a district technologist who claims that shootings in Florida would have been prevented with this new product in place. What’s wrong with this picture? Why are we allowing fear to dominate the lives of our school children? How can this be reversed?

Anonymous eSchool News Contributor Offers Chilling School Safety Ideas

January 20, 2020 Comments off

This article from eSchool News, posted by an anonymous contributor, offers a list of ways the school district he or she oversees is dealing with school safety issues… and the solutions offered are chilling. In the name of school safety all of the students in the district are completely forfeiting THEIR anonymity and privacy by inviting adults to monitor their every move within the school and every word they write. I hope that the school board and parents in the district led by the “contributor” have thought about the kind of citizens they are developing in the name of safety.

Good Guy with Gun vs. Bad Guy Who Never Should Have One

January 4, 2020 Comments off

This article is the latest twist in a shooting at a church where a good guy with a gun killed someone AFTER that person killed two innocent people. Initially this looked like a case where gun laws allowing church goers to bring guns was validated. But now it looks like those who want gun restrictions are being validated. MAYBE the day will come when the need to carry at all will be questioned.

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