Posted by Ken Trump on June 14, 2013
Questions about student and teacher safety continue to mount as some schools deploy questionable drill tactics in which children and teachers are instructed to throw things at, and to attack, armed gunmen.
The tactics stem from the controversial “Counter” component of the A.L.I.C.E. Training program, which stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate.
In recent months, school and police officials have reported some highly questionable tactics that a number of veteran school security professionals believe put students and teachers at a greater safety risk:
These and other examples have left a number of veteran school security, psychologists and law enforcement professionals with serious implementation concerns, doubts and objections to A.L.I.C.E.
In two spirited workshops at a state conference in Wisconsin earlier this week, police officers advocating for A.L.I.C.E. or similar models remained unable to answer questions about how, if at all, these training programs account for age and developmental factors, special needs children (autistic, mobility impaired, behavioral and emotional disorders, etc.), and other child-centered and preK-12 school-specific concerns.
No one could point to written school board policies, regulations and procedures governing A.L.I.C .E. type programs even though some of their districts were implementing the concept. They were also unable to confirm that written opinions supporting these programs had been received from school attorneys and insurance carriers.
A couple of officers suggested that policies, regulations, procedures, and reviews by attorneys were not even necessary even though school employees and students were being instructed to attack gunmen. I asked them if their police departments sent them out with Tasers, guns and self-defense tactics without policies, legal review, etc., and why they should have these management protocols yet schools with people instructed to attack gunmen should not have them.
It is unclear in some of these examples as to whether they were directly taught by A.L.I.C.E. instructors or if they are the result of what was interpreted from the instruction by those who attended A.L.I.C.E. training. Either way — direct instruction or interpretation — these tactics leave many experienced preK-12 school safety believing that such practices increase, not decrease, the risks of students and teachers being hurt or killed.
A.L.I.C.E. advocates often suggest that schools do not have options. Educators already have options, and they need to recognize that there is a difference between good options and bad options. Bad options such as the above practices done under the umbrella of A.L.I.C.E. training are options that those selling A.L.I.C.E. training can keep out of our schools, in my opinion.