Students invent classroom door lock

“Shaken by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and determined to prevent future tragedies, a team of high school students in Washington, D.C., has invented a new locking device for classroom doors,” reports Discovery News. Often classroom doors can’t be locked from the inside due to fire-safety regulations. They hope their low-cost device will help teachers keep intruders out.

lock

Ten Benjamin Banneker Academic High School students, led by math teacher John Mahoney, created the Dead Stop. A PVC pipe that’s hinged on one side can be locked on the other with a steel pin. Fitted over a hydraulic door closer, it will prevent the door hinge from widening.

 When the students did research about patents and commercially available door locks, they said most of the devices they found required physical installation either on the door or the jamb. Other devices were expensive and complicated to install. Theirs should cost less than $5 and be simple enough that a teacher could lock the door in under 30 seconds, they said. Once the danger has passed it should be easy to remove as well.

With a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant, the students plan to build and test several prototypes of their design, publicize the DIY instructions and collaborate with a company to manufacture the device. They’re hoping for pro bono help in applying for a patent.

Unsafe in any sport

Students must wear helmets to play soccer, field hockey and lacrosse in Princeton, New Jersey schools, reports EAG News. Bubble soccer

The helmets, which cost $35 to $70, may not prevent injuries, says Joanna Boyd, a concussion specialist at the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey. “It’s the speed, it’s the angle, it’s the kind of hit it is.”

Protective gear can encourage aggression, some say. “I’m concerned that the players who are better padded will be more emboldened to do things they never would have thought to do before,” said Marc Block, a longtime soccer referee,told Newsworks.  ”My sister referees women’s lacrosse, and as soon as they told everyone to start wearing those metal eye cages, the number of sticks to the head went up very quickly.

I was hit in the head — quite hard — by a field hockey stick when I was in high school. The girl walking ahead of me decided to practice her golf swing and whacked my forehead on the back swing. Just think what might have been …

‘Just Move’ stamps declared ‘unsafe’

The U.S. Postal Service will destroy the entire press run of “Just Move” stamps because of safety concerns, reports Linn’s Stamp News.
JustMove-Forever-pane15-v3

Three of the stamps in the 15- stamp series show children performing a cannonball dive, skateboarding without kneepads, and doing a headstand without a helmet. That’s unsafe, according to members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

Michelle Obama, who’s been trying to encourage children to be more active, has popularized the “Just Move” slogan. She was set to take part in a first-day ceremony for the stamps — until someone decided kids need a helmet to do a headstand.

The campaign will need a new slogan: If you’re swaddled in protective gear and supervised by a certified adult, move. But be careful.

I keep looking for evidence this is a hoax. So far, nothing.

Hit & Run, which has pictures of all the “Just Move” stamps, finds more safety horrors: The baseball player isn’t wearing a helmet!

And what about the kid cartwheeling without a P.E. teacher’s supervision? The rope climber might fall!

Are we free to gambol?

Powderpuff football is sexist, dangerous

800px-Powder_puff_football.jpg

Powderpuff football is sexist, divisive and dangerous, according to the principal of a suburban Boston high school. Newton South Principal Joel Stembridge canceled the school’s annual girls’ flag football game, which pits juniors against seniors.

On The Corner, Andrew Johnson links to a screenshot of principal’s e-mail on Acculturated.

The principal lists the five reasons why the tradition was ended, such as injuries and “destabiliz[ing] our normally supportive, welcoming, intimidation-free school environment.” The gender-specific nature of the game also resulted in its cancelation.

“In terms of gender politics, the name ‘powerderpuff,’ which most students still call the game, inadvertently serves to mock the hard-fought struggles of female athletes to be taken seriously and, we think, perpetuates negative stereotypes about femininity and female athletes,” the e-mail read.

In addition, the game “does not include the whole school” or “celebrate the diversity of interests of our students, nor does it encourage appreciation for the skills and/or expertise developed here at South.”

By this logic, Newton South should cancel varsity football too.

Kindergarten kids on first day of school

Kindergarten Kids Explain Their First Day of School.

Four million children will start kindergarten this year. Compared to new kindergarteners 10 years ago, these children are more racially and ethnically diverse, more than twice as likely to qualify for a subsidized lunch and more likely to live in neighborhoods their parents describe as safe, according to Child Trends.

‘Run, hide, fight’ is new safety advice

Hiding in a locked classroom and waiting for rescue may not be the safest strategy when a gunman threatens, advises the U.S. Department of Education. Run, hide, fight is the new safety mantra, reports EdSource Today.

As part of back-to-school preparation, educators throughout California are being trained in the technique, which includes giving teachers the leeway to ignore lockdowns requiring students to be kept inside, to run off campus with students, and to unleash a fire extinguisher on a person with a gun.

“The idea is that instead of being passive and being executed, be active and perhaps save your own life and the lives of others,” said Arthur Cummins, who sits on the board of the California School Resource Officers Association and is an administrator for safe and healthy schools at the Orange County Department of Education.

Los Angeles Unified is training administrators and school principals on alternatives to locking down the campus.

“If you listen to a 911 tape from Columbine, a teacher was doing what she was trained to do, which was to ‘shelter in place,’” said Carl Hall, assistant superintendent of support services for the Kern County Office of Education. “The reality was she had a great opportunity to remove herself and her kids and go out a back door – that’s very sobering.”

Here’s a video aimed at office workers. It’s a lot tougher when adults have to protect children as well as themselves.

Iris scans are the new school IDs

In the sci-fi movie Minority Report, ubiquitous iris scanners reveal shoppers’ identities so advertising can be targeted — and they can be tracked everywhere.

Iris scanners are replacing ID cards at schools ranging from preschools to universities, reports CNN.

South Dakota-based Blinkspot manufactures iris scanners specifically for use on school buses. When elementary school students come aboard, they look into a scanner (it looks like a pair of binoculars). The reader will beep if they’re on the right bus and honk if they’re on the wrong one.

The Blinkspot scanner syncs with a mobile app that parents can use to see where their child is. Every time a child boards or exits the bus, his parent gets an email or text with the child’s photograph, a Google map where they boarded or exited the bus, as well as the time and date.

Parents already can slip a GPS tracker in little Aidan’s backpack, but I guess that’s not good enough for helicopter parents. Kids can lose a backpack, but they aren’t likely to lose their eyes. (But kids will forget to use the scanner and be reported missing . . . )

Eyelock, which makes scanners used in foreign airports and at high-security offices, is “entering the school market, piloting their devices in elementary school districts and nursery schools around the country.”

A San Antonio school district will stop using microchip-enabled ID cards to track attendance, despite winning a lawsuit. The cards didn’t raise attendance enough to cover the cost.

Schools teach kids, staff to resist intruders

Some schools are teaching students and staff to defend themselves against an intruder, reports Education Week.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s school safety plan includes self-defense: “Staff and students may utilize methods to distract the shooter/intruder’s ability to accurately shoot or cause harm, such as loud noises or aiming and throwing objects at the shooter/intruder’s face or person.”

Response Options, a Texas-based company, was started after the 1999 Columbine killings. Greg Crane, a police officer, asked his wife Lisa, an elementary school principal, what she’d have done.

“I said ‘We have code red—a typical lockdown. I put out a code red, we get in the classroom, shut out the light, and then we wait for you’,” she remembers telling her husband. He was incredulous. How would such a lockdown work in the cafeteria or when children were outside? And what if students and staff members found themselves sequestered with a shooter? “I said ‘I don’t know. This is all they’ve ever told us.’”

The couple devised ALICE training, as in “ALert, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.” They teach everything from how to barricade doors with whatever furniture can be moved—and putting castors on some pieces in advance of an emergency if necessary. Evacuating and getting students out of harm’s way are the ultimate solutions, Lisa Crane said.

“The ‘C’ [counter] is the most controversial,” she said. “But if you make yourself a hard target, you have a real good chance of gaining back control of a situation or getting out.”

Students in junior high and high school can throw objects at shooters, move around and make noise, the Cranes advise. “And schools can choose to teach students and staff to swarm a shooter, grabbing hold of the person’s extremities and using body weight to immobilize them,” reports Ed Week.

Cowering isn’t always effective.

School holds toy gun exchange

A California elementary school is holding a toy gun exchange, offering students a book and a chance to win a bicycle if they turn in their play weapons, reports the Hayward Daily Review.

Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill sees toy guns as a gateway to the real thing. ”Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Hill said.

A police officer will demonstrate bicycle and gun safety, a fire crew will discuss fire safety and parents will be offered fingerprinting and photographing of their children.

Teachers: Suspensions are down, but so is safety

Denver schools have cut suspensions and expulsions dramatically, but some teachers say their schools aren’t safe, reports Jenny Brundin on Colorado Public Radio.

“Students have threatened to follow teachers home and jump them,” says Greg Ahrnsbrak, who teaches at Bruce Randolph, a 6th-12th grade school in north Denver.

 We’ve had students who have threatened to bring a gun and kill teachers. We’ve had students who’ve threatened to kill all of us with a bomb. Our administrators have tried to expel some of them and they’re told they can’t.

“Our schools are safe,” says Assistant Superintendent Antwan Wilson.

But, nearly all of the staff at Denver’s Morey Middle School, Bruce Randolph and Munroe Elementary schools signed a letter complaining there are no consequences for fighting or cursing at a teacher.

A local parent and youth activist group Padres y Jovenes Unidos, pushed for the new discipline policy. “We had thousands of students being referred to the police for minor discipline issues, like being disruptive in class,” says Lalo Montoya.

Now the discipline process is complex, writes Brundin. “In order to get a belligerent kid removed from school or even class, it takes multiple steps, and sometimes weeks of documentation that teachers say cuts into teaching time. Kids know that and push boundaries.”

A teacher, who didn’t want to use her name, says she used to be able to ask a disruptive student to leave the classroom, knowing the student would leave.

And now they won’t. They refuse. So you’ve got to call security. Actually,  just yesterday, I had a student who was using horrible language, just yelling these awful, awful things. I asked him to stop. He said he would and he didn’t. And then he started laying hands on some of the other students, kicking, hitting, pushing. Just very violent. So I called for security. Security comes out and says, “I will ask him to come with me, but I can tell you right now, he’s not going to come.”

Students can be sent to an in-school-suspension room, where they’re supposed to get counseling. But schools don’t have enough counselors.

Student: When kids get real angry, they just be cussin’ at the teachers, and the teachers really don’t even do nothin’. They just send us to the SI office. You just sit down, do your work and just wait until the next period and get your stuff and go!

Students can be suspended or expelled for bringing guns or knives to school, Wilson says. He concedes schools need more support to make the new discipline policy work. An extra $1.5 million is budgeted for mental health specialists next year, targeting mainly middle schools.

Via Education Week.