Sunday, August 26, 2007

Technology not the ultimate solution for educational safety

My client, MDI, has asked me to monitor the news wires on school safety, and there is a common thread in the message from school boards who purchase security equipment: Technology will make things better.

More and more schools are purchasing new cameras, door security devices and other similar devices in a hope to make their schools better. But as a husband of a master teacher, I know that purchasing technology is just one step. There also is the more important aspect of training the staff and communicating the process of new equipment to parents.

Even though I am the contract public relations officer for MDI and LearnSafe, I find their message that technology is just one aspect to the solution very compelling. As the No Child Left Behind mandates school safety, educators must put together a plan that makes the school environment safer for their charges.

Here in San Antonio, you can see one of the largest districts in the area -- the San Antonio Independent School District -- as a classic example of a school that needs help. The district has 90 police officers, the equivalent of a mid-sized community police force and their own jail. Police officers are assigned to each elementary school. Yet, parents in that district view that school as a dangerous and look to charter and parochial schools as a viable alternative for safe school settings.

Could a change in the process help this district? I think so, but the problem is that the district administrators don't want to embrace the change needed to improve school security. Having worked with the district as a sports writer with the Express News and SAsports while getting my degree at UTSA four years ago, I know that the district is full of educrats. As author Seth Godin wrote in one book, they have a lot of competent people who won't think outside the box. Or really in the box either.

My hope is that through communications channels that the district will see the benefit of LearnSafe. I hope that school board members inside districts like the SAISD will question the need for change in their security procedures. If they address it with a program like LearnSafe, they can help improve the quality of their school security.

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