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State Education Chiefs Team Up on School Safety

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A group of 12 state education leaders will collaborate to identify "promising practices to stem the far too frequent incidences of school violence," the Council of Chief State School Officers announced Tuesday.

The steering committee, convened by the CCSSO, will identify best practices related to a wide array of safety issues, from violence to student mental health. The group will also work to identify resources that states can use to put those plans into action.

"School safety and security is a complex issue, and it is my hope that we can shift the national narrative from a debate centered on gun violence to a more comprehensive discussion about preparedness, prevention and student well-being," Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, a member of the committee, said in a statement. "Keeping students safe and making them feel supported is our number one priority as educators—and when we come together on a national level, we can demand that greater dialogue."

School safety has been thrust into the spotlight in the wake of two large school shootings this year, in Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Texas. The debate over safety includes the work of a federal school safety commission chaired by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, which is also focused on assembling best practices.

But some researchers have said school safety discussions are often too narrow, focusing on shootings and physical hardware used to secure schools at the exclusion of issues like school climate, student supports, and prevention work.

In addition to Balow, the committee's members are: Montana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius, Alaska Commissioner of Education and Early Development Michael Johnson, Hawaii Superintendent of Education Christina Kishimoto, New Jersey Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon, Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart, Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell, Iowa Director of Education Ryan Wise, and Tony Dearman, the director of the federal Bureau of Indian Education.

Related reading on school shootings, school safety:

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