Establishing a Safe Learning Environment

Many schools have increased their vigilance regarding those who enter their buildings.  Procedures include single entry points, requiring visitors to request permission to enter by communicating with main office personnel, vestibule video cameras, adult or (sometimes) student escorts, and security personnel stationed at common entry points among other strategies.

While ensuring a safe learning environment is not arguable practical constraints very often determine the strategies and procedures that can be effectively employed in achieving this result.   Frequently, cost is at the top of the list.  But schools have found ways to fund efforts to provide safe learning environments.

Despite the implementation of such procedures I have seen people (myself included) wandering around schools that I have had the opportunity to visit not having checked –in, not being escorted, not wearing visitor identification.   Yet the money has been spent on efforts to secure entry.

Are those of us responsible for implementing security strategies and procedures truly paying attention, making a personal commitment, putting forth the effort to make sure that, to the best of our abilities, schools remain a safe place to spend time?

How effective is restricted access in establishing a safe learning environment?

Raymond J. Dagenais, Ed.D. is a Curriculum/Professional Development Specialist at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and a co-leader of the Design Team for the Aurora University based John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School

Common Core White Paper and Webinar

Kappa Delta Pi would like to know how the Common Core has impacted teaching and learning in your respective area as a student, teacher, and/or educational leader.  Please read our white paper available here  and tune in to our three-part Common Core webinar series.  Please share in this discussion board: How has the Common Core impacted you?

Education and the Fiscal Cliff

One of our Public Policy & Advocacy members recently received a notice from his state teacher union. Part of the notice read:
If sequestration occurs…it looks like Virginia schools would lose $69,002,000, with an impact on 114,030 students, and job losses totaling 1,317.
Teachers in Virginia and around the country are facing the potential of sequestration, or the taking of pay and benefits to offset budget shortfalls. These measures are now being associated with the “fiscal cliff,” the well-publicized automatic budget cuts that will take place at midnight on Dec 31 if Congress cannot reach an agreement on changes to federal spending and revenue. In one recent example from outside education, the Hostess Bakery ended its operations, declared bankruptcy, and has begun selling off its assets–including some $50 million in worker pensions and company-matched retirement funds. While it’s unlikely that our public schools are formally sold as liquid assets, the concerns raised by sequestration and budgetary concerns are real.
If you’re an educator who is nervous about sequestration, you have good reason. Education Week recently ran an article detailing the possible effects the fiscal cliff can have on teachers and students. Among other issues, they reported an 8.2% across-the-board cut in DoE funding should the fiscal cliff scenario play out. In part, this is expected to impact the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; NCLB and Race to the Top waivers; and perhaps funding for key programs like Title II grants or Head Start.
You can be a voice for yourself and your students. Talks are scheduled to begin again after the Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps running through Christmas. Urge your representatives in state and federal government to take action now to prevent these economic threats to public education (you can use the links at the bottom of this page). Use your voice!
Alexander “Sandy” Pope is a Ph.D. student in social studies education at Teachers College, Columbia University

The 2012 Election and Education

Yes, the votes have been counted. President Obama has been elected to a second term. But the election didn’t end Tuesday night. The most important steps are just beginning.

In addition to the pure political content offered by the election aftermath, there are important implications for education. These will have a direct impact on you and your students, so it’s important to be informed.  The candidates agreed that education is vital to the American economy, but offered different visions for the future of American education. With Congress still divided, education reform will remain a heated debate. Now that President Obama has won re-election, it is time to focus on what he and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seek to accomplish in the next four years. EdWeek has suggested five key areas, including reauthorizing ESEA legislation and continuing to pursue Common Core standards.

In June we encouraged you to discuss the election with your students. Now that the election is over, the real implications begin. What education policies do you think the administration should pursue?

Alexander “Sandy” Pope is a Ph.D. student in social studies education at Teachers College, Columbia University