Our school system has always been considered as one of the safest in the world, and yet, there has been a drastic change in school safety lately. Most schools in addressing their mission, vision, and School Improvement Plans include statements regarding "producing a safe, and condusive learning environment for students." It is only too sad as we are reminded daily, that for all of our promises to our children, we are sometimes unable to keep these promises. If the safety of the students, faculty, staff, and administrative personnel are to be taken seriously, then we through our educational system must change the manner in which we have previously been able to protect our children as well as the other stakeholders.
Too often as has been reported in the news lately, a cry of concern, a concentrated effort regarding the control of gun laws, or perhaps the somber reminiscing of past tragedies all have been instrumental in sparking the country's interest, at least, for a short while. School safety will ultimately play into the adequate yearly progress and off task behaviors of students. If a student does not "feel" safe in the classroom or on the school's grounds, then counties and districts will inadvertently end up spending additional funding regardless. The only difference is that now instead of hiring armed and specially trained school security guards, they will have to divert funding for programs and other additional resource personnel that would assist with on grade level mastery.
Holding a student's attention is vital to the successful delivery of any skill introduced through the implementation of an educator's lesson plans. The slightest distraction, eg. a student constantly watching the door, or exhibiting fear-anxiety separation from their home room teachers, ( and yes, it happens) can be detrimental to the overall educational progress of the student, not to mention taxing in terms of having to perhaps utilize individually unique behavior modification programs. The reality is that students do not just lose close relatives, classmates, reading buddies, line leaders, office drop-off partners, field trip buddies, etc. and then return to school within two to three weeks and they "are fine."
Teachers also, despite having to re-arrange their classroom seating charts or asking to be placed in an entirely different room, ( which is highly unlikely during the year) must themselves deal with the pain of names having to be erased from attendance lists, looking at bundled "out of circulation attendance report cards," while simply trying to "forget" the names of the deceased students in order to continue to academically meet the needs of the remaining students as skillfully as possibly.
These are are just some of the real life situations and problems that students and educators are having to face in the aftermath of school tragedies. Many schools have already chosen to hire specially trained security guards, while others rely on armed educators, or police officers on campus. We will either have to redesign the way that school security is currently, or perhaps, (which is highly unlikely) the manner in which graduating new police officers are appropriated. Maybe, police departments could now begin recruiting personnel especially for school security. Their training would probably be shorter and also would not interfere with an already short staffed and over worked group of men and women. If this would prove to be too much, because of the politics of it all, then perhaps the schools could hire their own personnel, and then allow them to attend special classes for school training that would be conducted by police departments. Districts could obtain grants in order to alleviate the burden on an already financially strained educational system. Perhaps private entities might also be sought to subsidize funding for both the personnel as well as the new configuration of classes through the police department.
Another idea is that schools within feeder patterns can share from a pool of specially trained security personnel. Schools within certain regions can opt to utilize a matrix for hiring security personnel based on the number of schools within that particular region, allowing larger schools the option of "buying out" an existing position in lieu of a trained personnel. One "buy-out" option could be a xeroxing position. Some schools can have as many as two persons for copying materials. If teachers are trained on the machines, given password codes, and xeroxing limitations, the position could be converted. Smaller schools outside of urban districts could share a personnel, similar to that of many itinerant Occupational or Speech Therapist's positions.
These are only a few of the ways in which we could seriously begin looking at the safety of our students. We must not bury our heads in the sand by thinking that it is just a phase and will pass soon. This could very well be the "new reality" regarding school security and the state of education in our country.