Despite the massacres at Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, despite President Trump’s pledge to remove concealed carry restrictions from schools on “day one,” most American schools remain “gun-free zones.” Parents, teachers, administrators and school employees remain disarmed under Bush the Elder’s Gun Free School Zone Act of 1990. And yet there is some good news when it comes to protecting our school children from criminals, crazies and terrorists . . .
ALICE Training (as above) is based on a simple recipe: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. Judging by their training calendar, the program has popular support across the country. Well, the Midwest and South.
Yet even in these conservative enclaves, and certainly on the left-leaning coasts, educators take exception to the “counter” part of the program. The bit where students are taught to barricade, attack an assailant with thrown objects, scream and run around in a zigzag pattern, if the bad guy(s) enters the classroom and more.
Strangely, the “debate” centers mostly on the supposedly negative psychological effects of ALICE training on young minds. Do Schools’ ‘Active-Shooter’ Drills Prepare or Frighten? edweek.org asks. A different Trump reckons it’s the latter:
Outspoken school safety consultant Kenneth Trump, who regularly writes about ALICE training, says it’s not supported by evidence and “preys on the emotions of today’s active shooter frenzy that is spreading across the nation.” Trump and other critics say schools shouldn’t train young children in the ALICE response when school shootings, typically the focus of such drills, are statistically rare.
Where’s the evidence that “shelter in place” works? You’d think Sandy Hook would’ve put paid to that theory. And the possibility of an active shooter at school is not so rare that Uncle Sam hasn’t issued federal guidelines for dealing with the threat.
The bureaucratic behemoth known as the DOE is all over it. And some of their guideline recommend active measures against active shooters — at least for teachers.
A 2013 federal report, created in response to Sandy Hook, outlined a safety response that called on school staff to “consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers, and chairs.” It didn’t advocate involving students.
That report, released by the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of a group of federal agencies, drew concern from some school safety consultants who said such a “run, hide, fight” approach is unproven by research and may even be dangerous in the event of an actual shooting.
Common sense and recent history suggest that remaining completely passive against an active shooter, waiting for the police to eliminate the threat, is far more dangerous than doing, well, something. To its credit, edweek.org ends on a pro-ALICE note:
Some parents and teachers say responses like ALICE ease their fears that children would be “sitting ducks” in a shooting situation.
After Matt Holland, a 3rd-grade teacher in Alexandria, Va., learned about ALICE in his own staff training this summer, he called his 7-year-old daughter’s school in a neighboring district to ask leaders to transition away from a lockdown approach.
“While, yes, statistically speaking, the chances [of a shooting] are very slim,” Holland said, “I don’t want, heaven forbid, something to happen to my students or my daughter and to say, ‘There was a small chance it would happen, and it happened. And no one ever planned for it.’ “
ALICE and its ilk aren’t as effective answers to a lethal threat on school grounds as allowing teachers, administrators or school employees to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms at work. But it’s better than nothing.