The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and local youth organizations regularly condemn metal detectors and policing of schools, saying they make students feel like criminals. So I was surprised when I was in the Bronx last week and heard students saying something different. I was at a workshop at a conference on youth violence prevention, and participants were asked to cross the room if they agreed with statements by the facilitator, move to the middle if they weren't sure or partly agreed, and stay on the other side if they disagreed. Nearly all the students crossed the room, indicating they agreed, in response to two questions related to NYCLU's campaign: Should the city have a curfew for teenagers, and should the city schools have metal detectors? Although students in the workshop crossed the room in favor of them, other students I spoke to later expressed concerns about whether metal detectors really keep schools safe. Their views are after the jump.
The city needs a summit to tackle elementary-grade absenteeism, according to United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. And she says drawing on the skills of teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool could help get students to school: This is a challenging and complex issue, and a “business as usual” approach is not going to properly address it. That’s why the UFT is calling for a summit on this issue. A workable solution is going to require collaboration between the city and the community to make sure that proper services and supports are available to every school and every student that needs access to them. Needs and resources must be aligned. For example, we know that the attendance teacher ranks are spread very thin, and that there are more than 200 guidance counselors, social workers and attendance teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool that could be immediately utilized to help reverse this alarming trend. Weingarten's entire response is posted after the jump.