December 20, 2012 by Brad Currie
The recent school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut were very upsetting to me both as an educator and parent. Things definitely need to change as it relates to school safety and American culture. I do not believe however, that our society is falling apart as many have been saying in the media over the past week. Unfortunately school attacks have been going on for years, whether it was the school bombing in Bath, PA back in 1927 or Columbine in 1999. The fact remains that this sort of event will probably happen again. We can not though except these events as a way of life as President Obama said profoundly earlier in the week. More needs to be done int the way of securing our schools and offering more support services for all of our students. School boards and government entities need to think outside of the box and find creative ways to free up money so that schools can move away from being soft targets. One solution for example, is taking the ridiculous amount of money we spend as a nation on standardized testing and using it to help keep keep our kids safe in school. Educators from around the country need to start speaking up and demand change so that kids feels safe to learn. Here are some quick fixes that help with school security and the well being of our students:
- Each school must have a Student Resource Office, DARE Officer or Police Officer on staff before, during and after school.
- Each school must have a Student Assistance Counselor on staff that in addition to the counselors that are already on staff.
- Each school and all buses must have robust security cameras that can be accessed remotely by school administration and local police.
- Each school must have classroom doors that lock from the inside so that staff do not have to go out into the hallway in harms way to lock their doors.
- Main entrance doors must be supervised by staff during arrival and dismissal. They also should only be opened by staff at other times of the day using a FAB key.
- Constant training on school safety procedures needs to happen on a monthly basis at faculty meetings or through On Demand PD.
- All staff members must be required to wear identification badges. No excuses.
- School Safety drills need to be practiced during hectic times of the day i.e. student passing in between classes, lunchtime, arrival/dismissal.
- Schools must conduct safety audits on a yearly basis without fear of penalties as long as changes are made based on recommendations.
- Schools must evaluate their main office or entrance areas and make the necessary changes as to how visitors enter the building .
- Schools must strongly consider installing bullet proof glass in heavily trafficked areas.
- Schools must continue to build on maintaining and improving school culture through advisory programs and positive stakeholder relationships.
In closing, I want to comment again on how upset I am about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As you know there has been rampant speculation as to why the shooter did what he did. Let’s not be quick to blame video games and rap music for why these sorts of heinous acts are committed. For one, I played video games and listened to rap music for much of my teen life. I would sometimes watch violent TV shows or movies as a teen, when I probably shouldn’t of, but the bottom line is that I did. I think I turned out alright being that I am a school administrator and proud family man. I am successful in part because I always had a strong support network at home and in school. Teachers and coaches cared about my well being and given opportunities to fail and succeed. My parents were always around and modeling the right way to live life. I also took ownership of my life and tried to be a responsible school citizen, although I must admit that I made mistakes from time to time. I tried to put myself around the right people during middle school and high school, but sometimes I couldn’t control the situation that I was placed. I still was able to decipher between right and wrong and make a good decision. Again, I was able to do this based on the strong support I had from my parents and teachers.