Keeping My Students Safe Isn’t Easy.

Gun Library

Gun Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to keep my students safe, I really do, but it really is impossible.

When it comes to student and staff safety, there are so many things wrong with the way my school is built and run that I don’t know where to begin.

Our principal reminded the staff again this week that only the front door should be used for entrance and exit, so let’s start there.

It is unlocked. Anyone can walk up the three steps, open the door, and be in the building. Anyone. Delivery people, parents, job applicants, former students. Anyone. Why not a shooter?

Up three more steps and our shooter is in the lobby facing our security desk. Most of the time we have an unarmed but uniformed school security officer sitting there. Sometimes it is just a school aide. Guard or aide, he or she is the first victim.

sfAssuming someone hears those shots, the PA system will announce a lockdown. The speakers in the library aren’t so loud and if it is noisy (I don’t run one of those silent libraries) I may not hear the announcement. I usually have my door open and he library is the first room down the hallway you face while shooting the security guard.

At the start of a lockdown every teacher is supposed to lock our door(s), then herd our students away from the door and keep them quiet. To lock our doors we have to go out into the hallway, put a key in and turn it so the door locks, then go inside and move away from the door to where the students are. That’s right, there is no way to lock any classroom door from the inside.

Out in the hall, I will be the second person our shooter sees. It has been nice knowing you.

To protect my students and myself, some people are suggesting I, and other school staffers, should be armed. I’d need to get trained, and there are bullets that break into tiny harmless pieces if they don’t hit their target. How the bullets know that the kid or adult I actually shoot in error while trying to shoot the shooter isn’t my target and should remain harmless is beyond me, but science and technology have come so far so fast I might have missed that development.

The idea that teachers or administrators, aides or APs could shoot a shooter is a Rambo fantasy that pops up every time a school shooting occurs.

There’s fantasy; then there’s the more likely reality. The shooter enters the building and pops Sgt. Perez. He’s lost some weight lately but he’s still a pretty big target. If I have a gun, I rush out of the library, take aim, and fire. I hit the garbage bin in the lobby, or maybe the nurse rushing out of her office.

If two of us have guns, let’s say our most athletic assistant principal and I, we would shoot each other (accidentally, I’m sure) before we hit the rapidly moving shooter.

Guns in school are not the answer. We’re not going to shoot our way to safety.

None of us are Rambo.

John Rambo in Rambo.

No one is Rambo.

Rambo is fiction.

Lets start, instead, with keeping the front door locked, with everyone who wants to enter having to be checked via video before being allowed to enter. Let’s retrofit every door in the building so they can be locked from the inside.

Will that keep us safe?

Safer, perhaps.

It’s a start.

6 Responses to Keeping My Students Safe Isn’t Easy.

  1. CLykowski says:

    In our building we keep our classroom doors locked constantly. They are “propped” open with a bingo magnet ( long rectangular magnet w/handle about 5 -6 inches in length). In the event of an emergency or lockdown, all we need to do is pull the magnet out its place. This allows us to not try and locate our keys (mine would be in a pocket on inside of my book bag …usually). Our building is fairly new (11 yrs) and all of our classroom doors were made on an angle. This allows us to have a safe spot to put our children if needed and doesn’t allow someone who is looking into the classroom a chance of seeing them.

  2. Beth Still says:

    Deven,
    Please read this and share it. http://bethstill.edublogs.org/2012/12/14/preparing-for-the-worst-case-scenario/ Schools are going to have to invest in making schools safer and arming teachers is NOT the answer. Until those doors get retrofitted there are some things you can do to shut out intruders. The devices my husband recommends are described on the post.

  3. [...] Keeping My Students Safe Isn’t Easy. [...]

  4. [...] didn’t plan to write about it again. I’d said my piece and I was going to let it go at that. Then I saw this slide show of [...]

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