Wednesday, December 19, 2012

School Safety?

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut I haven't felt like writing much.  Being responsible for an elementary building & it's students safety, as well as having small children of my own in school made sleep fairly evasive this past Friday.  Further, I wasn't so sure the prevailing news in our field made silly stories about school life or bitches about educational policy particularly appropriate.

There's obviously been a lot of reaction and emotion offered up in response to this tragedy in schools nationwide.  We've seen a lot more police around my school, and we've added additional supervision and intensified focus on our end to reassure our families that our school is a safe place for children.

Yesterday, I attended our regular administrative meeting.  We talked about the climate at our respective schools and the various reactions we'd encountered in the days following the shooting.  Different principals and central office administrators began sharing ideas they had to increase safety and hopefully prevent a similar massacre from ever occurring at one of our schools.

I heard a suggestion that bullet proof glass be installed.  One principal suggested we 'buzz' guests into a holding area and make them identify their intentions through a glass window.  Panic buttons.  Classroom doors locked at all times. Armed officers for each building.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Below is a picture of one of the weapons used in the tragedy.  This isn't a blog on gun control.  Those discussions are appropriate for some other conversation.  For purposes of operating a school, if someone has one of those guns, and is motivated to cause harm, they're going to be successful.

School leaders need to be careful not to be overly reactionary to this unspeakable tragedy.  Bars, bullet proof glass, and restrictions on other freedoms in the name of safety do not solve or prevent what happened.  Most of the previous school shootings were carried out by students who walked right through the door without any trouble.

Presuming every parent, maintenance worker, delivery person, or other guest who comes to our doors may be there to do evil or kill is unhealthy, unfair, and fails to model for children how civilized adults behave.  It's bad for community, and again, doesn't prevent a motivated murderer from entering a school.  

My prayers and thoughts continue to be directed towards the grieving community of Newtown.  I applaud President Obama for his touching speech Sunday night and look forward to hearing what his preventative plan will be.

Till then, hug and love your kids.  Take reasonable precautions to keep kids safe.  A seat belt is a reasonable precaution.  Refusing to only ride in a tank in case a collision occurs isn't.  The same goes for our schools.

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