How Bad Is It?
The death of a single child at the hands of an intruder is one very much too many. Something must be done, but what? And can what needs to be done, be done in proportion to the extent of the problem.
In 2018, Education Week reports that 35 people were killed in school shootings, 28 of that number were students. Of the 35 people killed, all but 8 were killed in two mass shootings: the February 14 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida and a May 18 massacre at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Texas. Thirteen of the incidents happened in a school building and during school hours. Ten of the schools involved HAD police officers/SRO’s assigned to the building. At Marjory Stoneman, the SRO’s and sheriff deputies on site hung back from the conflict and did not intervene. Students on the third floor of the building heard a fire alarm and staff guided them to evacuate down the stairs into the range of the shooter. There was lots of mishandling to go around.
Florida courts has recently ruled that schools are not legally liable for the deaths and injuries done by invaders to students and staff.
As a nation, we are beating our rattle on the highchair and demanding more school security. We want more SRO’s, even though the SRO’s that have been present have not been able to thwart the shooter. We want to arm teachers, even though some teachers don’t want to be armed and we have no evidence that teachers will be better defenders than the trained SRO’s.
There is no profile of a shooter, although they are overwhelmingly boys and are much more likely to occur in a high school. For the 2018 calendar year, 50.7 million children attended public schools k-12 in the US. That means a child in our country had .000055% chance of being killed in a public school. One child is entirely too many. But are we responsibly allocating resources by spending millions of dollars in every state and creating a school security industry for a problem that is horrendous when it does happen but is really (thankfully) not particularly widespread. Some schools are beginning to resemble prisons. Shelby schools are spending $400,000 dollars on security and at the same time paying teachers barely $43,000 a year.
We do not have money for school counselors and social workers to help all children. We do not have money for remedial math and reading teachers to help most children. We do not have money for more teachers to reduce class size that will give all children access to greater learning opportunities. But we do have tons of money for training teachers to use firearms even if the teachers don’t want to be trained. We do have money for camera systems that often do not work. We do have money for alarmed doors and special detectors at school doors. Just how bad is this problem when we have money to prevent something terrible but we can’t find money to promote the learning environment to serve all kids and foster something great.