Safer Schools with ED and PTA

Image     Safety of our children has always been important, but due to recent catastrophic events involving schools, increasing safety has taken on new meaning and has become a higher priority at most levels.  Noticeably, many elementary schools are installing security cameras, including our intermediate school, where this was often only done at the middle and high school level. I recently sat in on a conference call led by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS). Included in this call were, John White, ED’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach David Esquith, ED’s Director of the Office of Safe & Healthy Students;and National Rural Education Association (NREA) Executive Director John Hill. An important part of emergency management is “communication”.  It is especially important to include “first responders” in the planning process as well as staff and some parents.  Communication plans must include prior drills and information on how to prevent tragedy as well as how to respond during a tragedy.  Knowing what details to share can also be critical during an emergency when you want to inform the public but you do not want to cause panic or provide too much information to the perpetrators (if any) of the tragedy.

Guides should be released by ED in May to help the schools to update their emergency plans. One of my questions revolved around discussions held by some schools about eliminating or reducing parental access to schools. I am relieved that many are stepping up their background checks and fingerprinting but are not denying access.  Parental engagement is important to our schools and we don’t want to inhibit participation and visibility that could help our children to be or to feel safer.

Copyright 2012 Lifetouch National School Studios Inc

Betsy Landers


Arne Duncan at Town Hall

Statistics show that youth and young adults are much more likely to become victims than those over 24: 38% are 12-17 years old and 49% are 18-24.  President Obama has called for a “collaborative effort to keep our children safe at home, at school, and in the community.”  In this spirit, two town halls were held in Baltimore, MD with National PTA President Betsy Landers. One was with the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Deborah Delisle, who has thirty-seven years in education and says, her “heart lies with kids everyday.”  Another town hall included Secretary Arne Duncan where over 350 community members attended to share ideas to improving school safety for students.  In Our Voice, our National PTA‘s blog, Betsy Landers wrote an article, “Our Commitment to Keeping Schools Safe.”  In it she recommends two courses of action:

1)      Contact your Senators to express disappointment in their failure to enact common-sense gun violence prevention measures.

2)      Urge Congress to Enact the Bipartisan Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act.

Resources are available at the REMS Technical Center to help with REMS planning as well as on counseling students after traumatic events. PTA also has information on planning and safety tip sheets.  I believe that one of our greatest resources is “Working Together!”

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About Bren Martin

Brenda is an education advocate and has been an active leader in the schools, church and community. She is a National PTA Social Media Ambassador and was a Panelist on NBC's Education Nation in New York City, "Stepping Up: The Power of a Parent Advocate," for Parenting Magazine. Brenda was honored by the U. S. Department of Education and the White House as a “Champion of Change” for educational advocacy. She is Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress-Kentucky delegate and a recipient of Knowledge Universe-KinderCare’s Education Achievement Award! (See Parenting Magazine’s, “The Power and Potential of Parent Advocates,“ and one of Brenda’s articles, “Changing Us, Changes Them.“) Some of her services include: District PTA President and State PTA Board; Education Commissioner's Steering Committee for Teacher Effectiveness. She is a former regional President, Gifted Education; Summer Camp Creator/Director; Church Youth Director; Vacation Bible School Director; Prichard Committee’s Commonwealth of Institute for Parent Leadership (CIPL) Fellow; School Based Decision Making; Employability Skills Consultant to prison & colleges; Television Special host and more. Also, Follow Brenda on Twitter @bdrumartin. Disclaimer: Use sites, blogs, information or links at your own risk.
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3 Responses to Safer Schools with ED and PTA

  1. Pingback: Family Engagement in Education Act of 2013 | Debate and Switch's Blog

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