Home News What Ed. Schools Can Do About School Shootings (And Other Overwhelming Problems)

What Ed. Schools Can Do About School Shootings (And Other Overwhelming Problems)

12 min read



There are some challenges educators should not must face alone


Christopher Morphew

This yr’s 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School capturing, wherein 12 college students and one instructor had been tragically killed, was a somber reminder of how deeply the worry of mass violence has penetrated the material of our nation’s faculty methods. High-profile incidents—in our civic places of work, church buildings, workplaces, music venues, faculties, festivals—proceed to make security a front-of-mind difficulty not only for college students and their households, but additionally for classroom academics, faculty employees, and faculty and district leaders. Their job necessities now embody getting ready for and responding to high school violence—or attempting to forestall it from taking place within the first place.

When faculty capturing incidents have occurred previously, in my position as dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education, I’ve been requested by reporters what we had been doing to unravel the issue. Frankly, I have never felt happy with what I needed to say or what we might contribute. The jobs of academics and principals are completely different at present than many years in the past, however our nation’s teacher- and administrator-preparation applications have not advanced to make sure that the subsequent technology of educators are ready to sort out at present’s complicated challenges. I’m satisfied that if greater schooling establishments—particularly research-oriented faculties of schooling like ours—wish to stay related to the Ok-12 occupation, then we should adapt to the altering wants of our Ok-12 faculties and higher put together the professionals who lead them.

Creating protected and wholesome studying environments is likely one of the many multidimensional, interconnected challenges that at present’s educators and faculties should face. Many faculties have gravitated towards measures of questionable effectiveness, together with arming academics, hardening faculty buildings, buying biometric scanners, and updating emergency protocols. But in our conversations with district and faculty leaders, they steadily ask us particular questions that transcend faculty violence and safety and mirror extra intently their day-to-day actuality: How will we roll out an efficient security plan? How can we promote the psychological well being of our college students and employees? How can we tackle points like bullying, suicide, self-discipline, and faculty local weather?

We ought to have concrete solutions for them. We as an establishment have an extended legacy of reworking the observe of drugs via rigorous software of proof, an on-the-ground presence in Baltimore faculties grappling with a few of these points, and quite a few researchers who examine completely different items of the college well being and security puzzle. Yet our analysis efforts on this difficulty lacked coordination and a typical focus, and we had few programs and sensible assets to supply our college students or educators at the moment within the occupation. So, greater than a yr in the past, we started methodical preparations to launch a brand new cross-disciplinary heart on the college, with our college of schooling main the way in which.

We started by broadly analyzing how faculty security was being addressed throughout the nation and located many various teams providing completely different options—some good, however many missing any sort of proof base. We discovered different establishments of upper schooling and organizations making vital contributions on sure sides of the difficulty. But no analysis college had pulled the various items of college security and well being collectively in a multidisciplinary effort—from schooling to public well being to utilized physics—devoted to tackling this problem comprehensively and holistically.

We’re hoping to just do that with our new Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, which we launched this spring. We wish to present faculties, communities, and policymakers with data and instruments to make knowledgeable selections, and to supply educators and households with the perfect practices to foster a protected and wholesome faculty local weather. This means revamping our personal teacher- and administrator-preparation curriculum to incorporate the perfect analysis and observe in protected and wholesome faculties as an integral a part of coaching 21st century educators. We are nonetheless very a lot within the early going—pioneering completely different instruments and concepts, planning to measure the proof of our influence, and striving to study all we will from our successes and failures.

We hope that our expertise will propel different faculties of schooling to rethink how they will finest put together academics and directors. School well being and security is only one space the place faculties of schooling can show our critics unsuitable by demonstrating now we have a lot to contribute to fixing the best issues of our day. Collectively, now we have many instruments in our 21st century arsenal, amongst them knowledge evaluation, studying science, entrepreneurial savvy, and progressive analysis that transcends disciplinary boundaries. But maybe our handiest instrument is usually a passionate dedication to the evidence-based enchancment of our faculties and our youngsters’s future.

Plenty of different new and evolving challenges face Ok-12 educators and faculties, and I hope our colleagues will launch comparable initiatives the place they’ve experience by figuring out, connecting, and adapting the entire levers at their disposal, whether or not they be analysis, lecturers, instruments, or coaching. I additionally anticipate foundations and particular person philanthropists will fund extra centered and holistic initiatives which can be led by faculties of schooling and designed to assist clear up essentially the most urgent issues of their native communities and nationwide.

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