Following days of national and international skeptical media attention and mockery of an Alabama middle school that asked parents to send canned food for students to throw at armed gunmen, the ALICE Training Institute on Friday distanced itself from the controversy before trying to “put a positive spin” on the adverse attention that put a dent into the options-based canning of school active shooters.
ALICE Institute distances itself from Alabama middle school controversial story, but letter links clearly reference ALICE training and students throwing canned food
The Alice Training Institute, which acknowledged this week on its website that it supports teaching individuals to throw canned food at armed gunmen, today distanced itself from the Alabama controversy today with a web site posting stating:
Although ALICE was not mentioned in the parents’ letter, several news outlets have referenced our company as providing the training. We are always available to the news media to confirm any details related to this story including:
- ALICE has NOT conducted training on behalf of the district.
- ALICE has NEVER been asked to conduct training on behalf of the district.
- Auburn University has NOT conducted training at the district.
While I commend the Institute for not hoping they could shelve the controversy or kick the can down the road, there are a couple more facts that would help put additional context around the ALICE Institute’s above statement:
Although the principal’s letter itself did not name ALICE training, the letter did include two links to articles that did reference canned soup and ALICE training:
- http://www.alicetraining.com/alice-training-institute-offers-training-chambers-county-school-district/ which links to an October 31, 2013, student newspaper article from Concord, MA, entitled, “Equipped with Cans of Soup – The Alice Drill”; and
- http://www.lakegenevanews.net/Articles-Geneva-Linn-Township-i-2013-11-21-251637.114135-Schools-prepare-for-violent-intruders.html which links to a lakegenevanews.net November 21, 2013, article entitled, “Schools prepare for violent intruders.” This article discusses the ALICE training program and references canned food:
Bushey said many classrooms are now keeping a collection of canned foods — soups and vegetables, for example. The intent is, if an intruder bursts into class, the teacher and his or her students will each throw canned foods at them.
So while it is factually accurate that ALICE was not mentioned by name in the Alabama principal’s letter, ALICE training was associated with the letter via links to two other articles. These articles not only mentioned ALICE training in general, but also once again linked ALICE training with two other locations in the nation where ALICE is being used with students taught to throw canned food at intruders.
Superintendent also repeatedly references ALICE training and mentions ALICE Training Institute web site
But a little more research also shows that Dr. Kelli Hodge, Superintendent of Chambers County School District, actually references ALICE Training and the ALICE Training Institute over and over in her nearly nine-minute interview with WTVM news in its online story entitled, “Superintendent addresses controversial school safety plan.”
Hodge threw W.F. Burns Middle School under the bus a few times in the interview, indicating that the school took on this training on its own and it was not a district level initiative. Dr. Hodge did, however, repeatedly reference ALICE training multiple times in the interview and linked it with throwing canned food.
Why cans? “They’re cheap and they’re heavy,” Hodge told the reporter.
It’s safe to say, however, that in terms of adverse media attention, Hodge quickly learned that the letter about throwing canned food at heavily armed gunmen can serve quite an expensive hit to the district’s credibility.
ALICE Training Institute says it wants a “positive spin” from the story
Meanwhile, the ALICE Training Institute on Friday announced that it is offering free ALICE training to the embattled Chambers County School District. According to the site, ALICE training co-founders Lisa and Greg Crane would provide the training. At least with them at the helm, school officials would hear straight from the horses’ mouthes and not risk being presented a canned training program.
Following the aforementioned bullet-points that appear to try to distance the Institute from the middle school principal’s letter about canned foods and gunmen, the Institute published its letter to Superintendent Hodge after noting that:
More importantly than setting the record straight, we feel compelled to put a positive spin on this story. The following letter outlines our offer of training service to Chambers County School district.
It is interesting to read that the ALICE Training Institute believes that spinning the story is more important than setting the record straight. We understand that some associated with ALICE training may be wishing they could have dodged this canned food controversy. But it continues to smack this type of training program square in the head no matter how much effort is made to spin ALICE away from the heat of the controversy.
The fact is, it may take some time for this story to make it to the back burner.
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