While I wish otherwise, the topic of student safety continues to be the most pressing topic in education today. Whether it be physical surveillance on campus or virtual protection and prevention online, school districts large and small around the country are in continuous pursuit of new solutions.
This month Tara Smith reached out to several school safety officers in her feature on page 16 to report on what they are implementing on a day-to-day basis. Some are using software services that monitor student online behavior 24/7. “Students know we’re watching and often we find these alerts are their cries for help,” says Christina Iremonger, Chief Digital Officer for Vancouver (WA) Public Schools (VPS). Others are attempting to control what and where students are accessing. “Teachers can engage and direct students and focus on educating instead of walking around checking screens,” says Rob McCartney, Director of Technology for Sioux Central (IA) Community School. But director of district safety and security Kevin Sutherland says it’s more than the tools.“Tech is great and there are lots of collaborative tools and resources, but the force multiplier is empowering students, staff, and parents to take responsibility for their own life safety and to work together to create a safe school environment.”
Franky, the Libertarian in me finds much of this stuff to be a bit creepy—1984 comes to mind. But then the father of three in me brings me back to reality. If these technologies can save the lives of children, then they are well worth the investment.
— Kevin Hogan