April 22 — June 3, 2022

A virtual conference series with keynote address by David C. Banks, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education.

Logo for A Safe Place to Learn conference

Bullying, violence, and shootings have focused public attention on safety and security in schools. As students have returned to in-person learning following the COVID-19 pandemic, school staff are now reporting dramatic spikes in physical assaults and mental health issues.

The Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government hosted 6 one-hour sessions with the nation’s leading policymakers, scholars, and experts on school safety. The purpose of this virtual series is to explore current issues in school security and to consider research-informed strategies for addressing current challenges.

On April 22nd, the first session began with a keynote address delivered by David Banks, Chancellor of New York City’s public schools. Subsequent sessions are described below.


Agenda and Video

Paul E. Peterson, Director, Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University
Daniel Hamlin, Professor, University of Oklahoma

April 22

Keynote address

David C. Banks, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

New York City is the largest school system in the United States. As head of this system, Chancellor David Banks discusses current school safety strategies being promoted by New York City’s public schools.

April 29

What are the post-pandemic trends in school safety? Is school safety a growing concern?

Following the pandemic, school staff are reporting that bullying, fighting, and behavioral problems have increased dramatically. Three experts present their recent research on post-pandemic trends in school safety.

Kalyn Belsha, National Reporter, Chalkbeat
Joshua Goodman, Associate Professor, Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development
Betheny Gross, Research Director, WGU Labs

May 6

What does research say about racial and ethnic disparities in school disciplinary practices?

Racial disparities in school discipline have generated considerable debate over the causes of this problem. In this session, scholars present rigorous analyses that shed light on whether discriminatory practices are behind racial disparities in school discipline.

Chris Curran, Co-Director, University of Florida Education Policy Research Center
Constance Lindsay, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina School of Education
Max Eden, Research Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

May 13

What can be done about school shootings?

School shootings have become one of the most pressing safety issues facing American schools. Three of the nation’s foremost experts on school shootings discuss strategies for reducing their occurrence.

Dewey Cornell, Professor of Education, University of Virginia
Daniel Hamlin, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma
Peter Langman, Researcher, U.S. Secret Service
Katherine Newman, System Chancellor for Academic Programs, University of Massachusetts

May 27

Can school choice solve the safety issue?

Parents consistently identify safety as one of the main reasons for seeking out a school of choice. In this session, researchers present empirical evidence on safety and school choice and whether or not schools of choice provide families with safer schools.

Sarah Cordes, Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development at Temple University
Sarah Lenhoff, Associate Professor, Wayne State University
Martin Lueken, Director of Fiscal Research & Education Center, EdChoice

June 3

What strategies can schools use to promote safe learning?

Schools have experimented with a wide range of approaches to discipline and safety. In this session, researchers present empirical evidence on the effects of two key approaches – restorative practices and school resource officers.

Catherine Augustine, Senior Policy Researcher, Rand Corporation
Ronald Ferguson, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Emily Owens, Professor, University of California Irvine