There are two fundamental questions we must answer before embarking on any policy to increase the security of our schools from violence.
First, who is responsible for these policies? Is it the federal government, the state, the city or the school district?
Second, how far do we go in assuring we have done all we can do to keep our schools safe?
Is there a price tag or limit on spending? How committed are we to making certain our children are secure in our schools? Is our collective expression of concern for our children merely rhetoric without substantial commitment demonstrating that concern?
Schools are the local responsibility of school committees, school boards, or school directors and their administrators including superintendents, principals, and other school administrators. It is not the place of the federal government to make decisions on how schools should be protected from violence. Parents have direct access to their local school policy makers and administrators. This is where decision-making should occur.
The question of funding the increased security for our schools should also be a local decision and local funding should handle the needs of each school district. It would be inappropriate to use federal funds for local concerns. Each district will have a different view on what their school security needs are, and they should develop their own policy, based on their ability to fund any security program they implement.
Mandates from the federal government would be bad policy, since what one district needs may be very different from what another district requires. All school policy should be decided locally.
Here are some suggestions that each school district can consider, based on its budget and its needs.
- Hardened doors that are impregnable and will resist weapon fire.
- Lock down the school once the day begins and keep it locked down until the end of the school day.
- Armed security guard at the main school entrance to screen anyone attempting to enter the building once the school day has begun.
- Metal sensors outside main door with screening equipment inside and available to the security guard to determine if the prospective entrant may be armed.
- Bullet proof glass on all windows to deter firearms removing a window and creating an entry for an assailant.
- Consider having a select few teachers and/or administrators trained and certified in the use of a hand gun and allowing them to have a firearm accessible to them in the e school.
- Surveillance cameras placed throughout the campus area to allow the security guard to survey the school grounds on TV monitors.
Implementing each of these proposals that are not already in existence at a school would certainly reduce the accessibility of the school to assailants. The issue for each district becomes whether it has the financial capability or commitment to do so.
We need to be able to say with confidence that we did all we could to protect our children from harm while at school. Any less is unacceptable.
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