The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

How Can We Make Schools Safer Without Putting Guns in the Hands of Teachers?

on February 21, 2018

As I finished writing this piece I felt that there was so much more that others could say, depending on the particular needs of their community. I would really appreciate the opinions and new ideas of people who know schools from the inside out


While eating breakfast this morning I turned on the television to be entertained. But the channel I went to enlightened me instead. On the screen were about twenty people, half of them were teachers and half were high school students, all of them from a school in Florida where an angry student with a gun killed 17 children and teachers last week.

Only the students on the screen spoke to the audience, describing their fear while hiding during the time of the killings and their anger when they found out about the deaths of their friends.

All of the students spoke with power and conviction. On the day before their appearance they had visited the offices of local and state officials to find out what steps they could take to keep other schools from suffering similar attacks.  A couple of the officials were sympathetic and willing to take positive actions to protect schools better in the future, but others refused even to talk to them.

Every one of the students who spoke expressed a strong intention to keep putting pressure on local officials and to harass the National Rifle Association, government leaders, gun sellers, and gun owners; all of whom have been standing strong against any action to limit the selling or use of guns for a long time and getting away with it.

To be honest, I must admit that I am not optimistic about the power of students and parents to change the current gun policies. They will be bound to their families and the demands of their education. It seems unlikely that the students will get any action unless their parents and many other adults share their feelings and support them. It would also take a lot of time, money and adult supervision to make it possible for them to travel around the country

I wish I could be more optimistic, but I’m afraid that the rich and powerful gun lovers have more support on their side than the wounded children. There will have to be a countrywide rebellion to make guns harder to buy and get gun owners to give theirs up. The only hope for change I see is a big switch in government power in the next election,

On the other hand I feel there is a good chance to improve the safety in schools. Even if I’m wrong I think it’s worth advocating. There are too many old and rundown schools with kids confined to dilapidated classrooms that are not warm enough in the winter or cool enough in the summer.

What I think schools need the most are up-to-date internal communication systems that enable those in the school office to contact all classrooms quickly when it is necessary and to see anyone who is at the front door trying to get in. Other signals, such as ones for fire or a broken water pipe would have to be signaled differently from others so that teachers and students would recognize their meaning immediately. For any large school it would also be a good idea to have a full time guard walking the school halls regularly, talking to kids in their classrooms about personal safety, and being responsible to report any problems they see. The guard would also stand inside the school entrance during student entry and leaving times to make sure that no stranger is going in or out. The main idea is that the guard would provide safety to all kids, and be trusted by them.

When the time comes to build new schools it would be important to design them with more safety than most current schools have.  One thing to be considered is not putting in windows that someone could shoot or climb through from outside.  Perhaps having the entire main floor of a school for offices and storage would be a good idea.

There is so much to be said about what a modern school should be like that architects should consult principals, teachers, and students to find out what is needed in each place.  I also welcome the observations of readers on those points, hoping to get many good suggestions for school change. What we really need are the views people who have lived through good and bad experiences and now know what to do.

 

 


2 responses to “How Can We Make Schools Safer Without Putting Guns in the Hands of Teachers?

  1. doctorsam7 says:

    The last year I taught the school I was in had 3 lock-downs. That’s the bad news. Everyone knew what to do and did it quickly, the kids were as safe as we could make them. That’s the good news. We knew we had to have a plan that worked in place. That’s the sad news. It really is very different from when we both started teaching, isn’t it?

    Like

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