En Español Know Your Rights
Source: The New York Times
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Report Questions School Metal Detectors’ Effectiveness

What
would happen if you stripped a school of its metal detectors, reduced the
presence of police officers and gave principals more power in disciplining students?

Learning
environments would be safe and graduation rates would be high, the New York
Civil Liberties Union argued in a
**study released on Wednesday.

The group
examined six public high schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan
and the Bronx that serve large numbers of
at-risk children and make use of alternative ways of enforcing school safety.
Using data analyzed by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University,
the report found that the six schools showed high graduation rates, low crime
and positive reviews from students, teachers and administrators.

“Treating
students with dignity and respect is the best approach to producing good, safe
schools,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the civil liberties
union, at a news conference at the Julia Richman Education Complex on the Upper East Side, one of the schools participating in the
study.

The
city’s Department of Education, however, disputed one of the report’s crucial
findings — that graduation rates were higher at schools that made use of
alternative means of policing than at schools that relied on metal detectors.
At four of the schools, education officials noted, graduates rates have fallen
since 2006.

Margie
Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the education department, said the report was still
being reviewed to examine the validity of its other findings. She said
education officials believed in using discipline as an opportunity to educate
students, not just to punish. But, she added, “We will continue to use all
tools available to us.”

The
report could not definitively link the alternative school safety measures to
high academic achievement. The Julia Richman Education Complex, for instance,
has undergone several other changes aimed at increasing student performance in
recent years, including breaking into four small, autonomous schools with the
hope of fostering closer relations between students and teachers.

Ann Cook,
who leads the Urban
Academy High
School
at Julia Richman, attributed the school’s
success to a close partnership between administrators and the school safety
agent.

“The idea
is dialogue,” she said, “not confrontation.”

**Make the Road New York (MRNY) contributed significantly to the
report.