Yesterday was an unusually warm day for February. At my school we decided to have extra recess for our youngest students. The sky was clear and the sun was warming the day. When it passed 65 degrees we let children take their coats off. They ran, climbed, jumped, played in the sand, swung high on the swings and created their own pretend games of all sorts.
Play is the true work of childhood. They were doing their jobs.
Yesterday I saw many anguished parents asking our school system, “What are you doing to protect our children?” They wanted specifics. They wanted to hear that the layers of protection are impenetrable. Perhaps they are influenced by remarks like these:
@JudgeJeanine: "We need to protect kids, & that means we've got to have metal detectors, we've got to have experienced cops..., & we've got to be able to have perimeter controls. We've got to have teachers who can carry a weapon & react to this kind of nonsense."
I saw the above post on Twitter, along with this response:
That's a prison. You're describing a prison.
Schools should not be prisons. Teachers should not be armed guards. Children should be able to have extra recess on a warm February day.
Turning our angry demands to the school system in response to these tragedies may be understandable, but it is largely misplaced. While our schools have a responsibility to provide and maintain safe environments for students, they cannot possibly prevent the kind of onslaught from automatic weapons which is making school shootings more and more frequent.
If you have fears, and anger, questions, and demands (as well you should) then direct them to the people who are truly responsible: your elected representatives. If you would give anything to make sure your child returns home safe at the end of each day, then get involved with groups advocating for common sense gun laws.
It is the responsibility of our elected officials to make sure that our communities are safe enough that our schools do not need to be turned into prisons. Don’t let them off the hook. Don’t make this the schools’ fault. Time after time teachers, administrators, and school staff have shown remarkable heroism and some have even given their lives in the protection of children in their care.
If we unleash our anguish on the schools we are essentially saying that we don’t believe that anything can be done to turn the tide of mass shootings. We can’t change that, so let’s change the schools.
I call bullshit.
If we want to protect our children as much as we say we do, we need to be willing to direct our energies at the source. Destroying schools as places of growth and learning because we feel we can't protect our children any other way is both cowardly and counterproductive.
The teachers and staff at your child’s school are there to help them learn and grow. They will do anything in their power to nurture and protect them. Support them in their work.
Make our communities safer for schools.