No More Silence: My Thoughts on School Safety

My most recent gig in public ed was supervising and coaching other Early Childhood Educators to ensure the highest program quality, which we measure by our ability to build a strong foundation for future success in life, school, and the community. Ultimately this encompasses the whole child and ranges from social emotional, cognitive, language, literacy, and physical development, and also mathematical thinking, scientific inquiry, and so on… the job is a big one. But, our number one duty everyday is to keep children safe. Safety has to be first, so that they can learn, grow, thrive, and develop.

That’s why, during classroom walkthroughs, we are required to take note of any safety concerns. All potential hazards must be removed or reduced. Furniture arrangement and size, accessibility of materials, all of this matters. Folks, in the world of early childhood, cleaning solutions, teacher size scissors, even hand sanitizers and air fresheners are supposed to be kept out of reach of children. So how the hell does arming teachers make sense? Could you imagine a Pre-K teacher or teacher of infants and toddlers carrying a concealed weapon? Could you imagine a child in need of physical affection or comfort hugging that teacher? And don’t tell me teachers shouldn’t be able to hug or physically comfort any children in their care. Don’t tell me that we aren’t talking about arming those teachers, maybe just teachers of older students.

A happy scene from my first classroom. That building was incredibly secure, and not because teachers were armed.

As teachers, we want to feel safe in our place of work. As parents, we want to feel our children are safe in their place of learning. This is more than a desire, it should be a right. Of course we cannot protect against all potential dangers… nor do we want to live constantly in fear. Neither our teachers nor children can thrive in that scenario.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I know that arming teachers is NOT it. I know that there also isn’t ONE solution to this COMPLEX problem in our country.

Yes, we need to better address mental health, both in and out of schools. Yes, we need to make sure schools full of our children are secure, as much as possible, without completely detracting from learning. Yes, we need to re-examine gun laws and accessibility.

No more moments of silence. We need action. That’s what our children, those lost and those still living, deserve.

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