Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Armed Guards?

Today is a first for me as a school administrator. Today, a well intended - and obviously concerned parent took the time to hand write a letter requesting that I do more to ensure her children's safety within my schools. Her plea was that we employee an armed guard (or guards) at every school location and that they search everyone entering the building to make sure the children are safe.

As a parent and educator considering the horror in Newton, CT and elsewhere I can lose myself in that idea. I allow myself to dwell there in that thought - imagining a new world where schools become fortresses protected by trained law enforcement personnel...but while I am dwelling there in thought, I can't stop with armed guards at the front entrance because I imagine all of the other areas of vulnerability. Such as, we must replace glass windows in each classroom with fortified bullet-proof glass so that someone can't open fire on a classroom window...my mind continues to imagine that while even the bullet proof glass isn't adequate, I start to think about lunch recess or simply classroom teachers who decide their children need some fresh air and exercise - what about them? If I am going to allow children that basic necessity  I will need additional trained officers - like a SWAT Team - to escort the children from the school building to the playground...while I continue dwelling in this dark thought I now turn to the next imaginable vulnerable point - dismissal and arrival - how can we protect every child in their parent's care - after all they drive them to school without the protection of armed guards - some even stopping at the local Wawa to buy a last minute snack because the night before was too hectic with soccer practice and homework - who will protect the children (and parent for that matter) exposed in the open air between their car and the convenience store? For those children who must ride a bus to school, like my own, the current busses are not acceptable - we need to outfit them with bullet resistant steal and windows - we should probably put an armed guard on the bus as well and at the bus stops too... see if I allow myself to dwell in this darkness there will never be light. Once we start trying to protect against the evil that was present in Newton we might as well bunker down and never again live our lives.

Instead, I chose to stand as exposed as all of you - with my children as exposed - and simply say that living life is too joyous to surrender it to evil. And while I completely understand this parent's dispair, an armed guard at an elementary school is not the answer (in my humble opinion) as it isn't enough. I imagine an armed guard would have done his/her best to stop the killer but would have likely been in the wrong part of the building attending to some concern or worse yet - would have been among the first of the heroic victims. It is my opinion that while we must prepare and hold our drills in case the worst of humankind is present at one of our schools (malls, movie theaters, convenience stores, homes) we can never be 100% secure without being 100% isolated.