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Safe-Schools Official Favors School-Climate Standards

Kevin Jennings, the U.S. Department of Education's top school-safety official, is making a pitch for common standards, but not the academic kind that get so much attention. He would like to see standards that describe "school climate"—whether a school is a place in which students feel safe and included.

In an interview with the Phi Delta Kappan magazine, Jennings discusses his safety agenda. He says that school safety includes far more than just making sure students don't bring guns into the building. Students can't learn properly unless they're both physically and emotionally safe and they feel valued, he says.

"Just as we have standards around academic goals, we need standards around school climate because what gets measured is what gets done," Jennings says. "We're only going to put school climate at the priority level it deserves—which to me is at the top—if we have standards around it and start measuring it."

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