The New York Times Magazine just published its "7th Annual Year in Ideas," and sandwiched between Wave Energy and Wikiscanning one finds Weapon-Proof School Gear. The gear in question is the backpack; Mike Pelonzi and Joe Curran have invented a bullet-proof variety. For the past several years, these two firearms instructors have shot guns at bulletproof materials, trying to discover which would be both lightweight and cheap and, thus, appropriate for insertion into a fourth-grader's backpack. The inventors won't divulge what stuff they finally picked, but they say it's capable of stopping bullets from 97 percent of the guns used in school shootings--and knives, too. Scott Poland leads the crisis response team of the National Association of School Psychologists and dismisses the idea of Weapon-Proof School Gear. "Do you know how fast a bullet travels?" he asks. Nonetheless, 1,000 of the new backpacks have been sold, prompting this thought: What, exactly, is becoming of American k-12 education?

"Weapon-Proof School Gear," by Patrick K. Walters, New York Times Magazine, December 9, 2007

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