Tuesday, August 14, 2018 – In much of America, summer unofficially ends during the next two weeks and another school year begins. We’ll begin seeing news reports about Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas and other venues where shootings have killed students and teachers. And we’ll shudder once again thinking that somebody with a gun will get into a school and start shooting. Another student with a grudge about a lost love affair or failure on a test paper? How about a cop? One who is returning fire at an active shooter?
Parents who have lost children to school shootings, news media on a reportage rampage, politicians who continue arguing over banning guns for those under 21…they are all part of the developing story of how to keep our students safe. Finally, educational administrators, legislators and law enforcement have found something on which they can all agree: making our schools hard targets.
What that means is found not just in the increasing number of schools that are hiring “resource officers” – cops, really – who have gone through specialized training to protect students from disturbed shooters who have made revenge for their own mental misgivings a motivation for murder, but taking steps to restrict access to what have become easy target schools. Airport styled access, electronically operated doors, metal detectors, even altered image perimeter fencing and, in some cases, retinal scanning of visitors, delivery vendors and other non-student personnel, possibly even including parents of students and faculty visitors are all on the table for discussion, installation and operation. Clearly, education is changing from the muzzle of a gun to the training of non-first responders built into the blueprint of new school-day educational administration.
While there is merit to armed teachers, there is also validity to the notion that teachers should not be compelled to act as primary protectors in place of trained resource personnel. As backups to such official defenders, armed teachers have a role to play, not just as educators but maybe even as civilian EMTs in cases of avoiding fatalities. While there may be some federal help available via either legislation or executive orders, state school districts will need to request funding from local governmental sources. While many people will rail against what may amount to increased taxes at the state, city or county levels, the message of an old political wartime saw is becoming clearer with the start of each new school year: of which do you want more, guns or butter?