I have four things to say about this.
In the national collective grief rising from Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut, one apparent trust seems to have completely shattered: that an elementary school was sacred and safe ground.
Left in the wake of 20 children and eight adults massacred by a lone gunman is a renewed debate over how secure should schools be and at what cost. Closer to home at least one teacher’s union is now calling for more armed guards on Houston school campuses.
Several local school districts acknowledged they focus their full-time security staff on high school and middle school campuses and only send patrols to elementary schools. They said it was too early to say if that strategy would be changed or if there was money to pay for it.
Other officials and experts questioned the expense of providing enough security – the kind that could turn a school into a virtual fortress – to repel a heavily-armed intruder.
Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers union, said she favors placing more armed police officers in schools, even on elementary campuses. It’s a proposition she recognizes would be “very expensive.”
“We really need more security,” she said. “You never know what nutcase is suddenly going to decide that shooting up the local school is a good idea.”
Fallon, however, said she does not support arming teachers with pistols, as a small school district in Harrold, Texas, did in 2008, drawing national attention.
HISD spokesman Jason Spencer noted HISD has 279 campuses, and only 200 full-time officers who are assigned to high schools, middle schools and secondary school campuses. HISD officers patrol the elementary schools.
“We don’t have enough officers to have one stationed full time at each campus,” Spencer said. “We do the best we can with the resources we have.”
1. What does it say about us as a society that we are talking about the benefits of having armed guards stand over our children? I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s not what I want for my kids.
2. For those like Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who do believe that having armed guards in place is the key to preventing this kind of violence, I’d like for you to please explain the Fort Hood shooting to me. (Patterson conveniently omitted that tragedy from the list he gave in support of his argument.) Surely the problem there was not the lack of armed and trained personnel in the vicinity.
3. After cutting $5.4 billion from public education in 2011 and causing the layoff of thousands of teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, support staff, bus drivers, and God knows who else, we’re going to find the money to hire thousands of armed security guards? Seriously?
4. If we really want to do something constructive, and spend our money in a way that might actually help the problem, then let’s finally get serious about mental health in this country. Right now, it’s far easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to access mental health services, and the latter is much more expensive if you can get it. I hope we can all agree this is a problem.
Actually, I have five things to say: Screw Mike Huckabee. That is all.