Here’s a multiple-choice quiz:That is the beginning of this Huffington Post piece by Marian Wright Edelman. I am NOT going to quote any more.
Which of the following should be part of a model school safety plan?
a) Proven evidence-based models for school violence reduction that focus on preventing misbehavior and violence by promoting a healthy, positive school climate.
b) Threat assessment, emphasis on positive behavioral interventions, social and emotional learning, nonviolent conflict resolution, and community engagement including parents, students, educators, and faith and civic leaders.
c) Trained mental health professionals (social workers and psychologists) and school counselors to identify problems early and support students and educators.
d) Keeping school doors locked after the start of the school day, creating a space where children are safe to learn and teachers are safe to teach.
e) Putting armed guards and more guns in every school in America.
f) Arming teachers and principals.
g) Putting law enforcement in charge of school safety and school discipline.
If you answered e), f), and g) give yourself a failing grade. Despite the loud voice of the National Rifle Association (NRA), scholars, experts on school safety, and teachers overwhelmingly disagree with turning schools into armed camps rather than places of nonviolent positive learning. School safety is a non-negotiable priority. The current national debate about how best to achieve school safety is a natural result of the horror we feel when violence happens at a school like the unbearable Newtown, Connecticut massacre of 20 small children and their teachers. We must do all we can to end school and community violence, but we need to make the right choices and make sure the solutions are effective and do not create other dangerous consequences for children.
You should read it.
You should bookmark it.
You should pass it on to others.
But I have a few words of my own to add below.
We have the NRA and we have politicians of various stripes telling us what we need to do to make schools safe.
Once again decisions about schools are being made without listening to the voices of those in schools who best understand them -teachers, administrators, students - even their parents.
Also, once again, we are seeing a tendency to look at only part of the picture rather than seeing the entire context.
In this post from earlier today I spent some time discussing how looking only at the financial issues of schools means we do not properly address the needs of schools and the students and communities they serve.
The same can be said in dealing with issues of violence.
Some of the violence comes from within the school - too many incidents have been by immediate members of the school community.
Newtown was different in that it involved an outsider. What should be clear is that nothing done within the school, including armed guards, can address problems that come to the school from outside when society has not been willing address what causes those problems.
In Newtown it was accessibility to high-powered military style weapons and ammunition and extended magazines.
There is a parallel - to student who come to school lacking health and dental care, not eating properly, living in communities where violence is endemic and thus disruptive, whose families have been destroyed by drugs and by the imbalance in our criminal justice system.
There is a parallel to assuming that anything done just within the school will ameliorate the damage perpetuated from outside the school.
We have to stop address the problems we see in schools as if each was in its own separate silo, and address the problems of society that manifest themselves in the lives of our students, within and without the walls of our school buildings.
I do not usually post two diaries this close together.
Both point at things of which people should be aware.
Both presented me with an occasion to offer some commentary.
So I did.
Do with this what you want.