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Fighting back.

When teachers learned in August that a father-possibly armed--was on his way to his children's elementary school in central Texas, they were ready to be predator, not prey.

The father had just threatened to shoot his wife at home and was on his way to drop off the kids at school. The teachers had undergone training for a controversial technique of standing up against would-be school violators. But police responded and arrested him before he could do anything.

"The teachers later told me, 'The training you gave us gave us confidence to deal with this,'" recalls Robin Browne, an instructor for Response Options and former member of the British Army.

Response Options: Critical Incident Training is an organization of three instructors that was created in 2000 and has worked with several districts across the U.S., teaching students as young as 13 as well as teachers and staff they have options and the power to immobilize a would-be sniper as a last resort.

Its name only recently came to light when Burleson Independent School District in Texas stated in October it was were using some aspects of the training, which covers natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tornadoes, as well as potential shootings. Its principle is ACES-Attack the problem, whether shooter or tornado; Control the situation: Evacuate or immobilize the attacker; and Scan for further threats.

Browne says security measures such as surveillance cameras are just not working well. When a student was fatally shot in Bailey, Colo., in September, the emergency evacuation plan got students and staff to safety, but the girls the perpetrator took hostage still paid a price.

Some disagree with the tactics. Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, says training students to fight armed gunmen "poses a high risk of multiple massacre." He says the best defense is a well-trained and highly alert school staff and student body, with an emergency plan. But others, including some parents, welcome an alternative.

Response Options takes away fear. Instead of students hiding under desks and staying quiet, they are taught to throw objects at the perpetator and then pummel him "with everything they've got," Browne says.

"What he's faced with is insanity," Browne says about the perpetrator. "He is faced with ... screaming and a barrage of cell phones, books, and book bags and kids moving."

Burleson students have been taught various options, but officials don't want them to attack the intruder.

The length of training depends on the school, but teachers get at least four hours and students get at least an hour for combative training.


More than 40% of surveyed employers say incoming high school graduates are not prepared for entry-level jobs.

And 28% of employers estimate that their companies will reduce hiring of new entrants with only a high school diploma over the next five years.

The report, Are They Ready to Work? is based on a survey of human resource officials by various groups, including the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
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Title Annotation:Update: NEWS, STATS AND FAST FACTS
Author:Pascopella, Angela
Publication:District Administration
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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