School Safety

The issue of school safety is a multifaceted problem, which requires multiple solutions.

First and foremost we know that the overwhelming majority of mass shooters are young men between the ages of 14 and 25. These young men are typically either current students or former students of the schools that they go after. The two keys to addressing this specific part of the issue are implementing more strategic safety nets and implementing some common sense gun legislation. Early intervention is our best and most effective tool in preventing these kids from committing these mass acts of violence. When they exhibit red flags or risk factors we need to intervene. This is something as simple as having a designated or multiple designated mental health professionals assigned to each campus. School counselors are a fabulous resource, however when we look at their caseload most of them are responsible for hundreds of students each. Furthermore, the vast majority do not have a background in mental health. The vast majority of school counselors are former teachers with 5+ years experience in the classroom. Overwhelmingly they are not clinical psychologist or therapist and do not have the resources they need to intervene before an event happens. Obviously, this plan is going to require additional resources and additional funding. This is one of the many reasons we need to increase funding for our schools.

Second, we need to make sure that firearms are not easily accessible to these students. This can be done by implementing some common sense firearm legislation, safe storage requirements, and red flag laws. Psychologically we know that young men and women do not have a fully developed frontal lobe until around 21. (Hence the guidelines on alcohol and tobacco.) We need to implement the same standard and requirement on the age of obtaining a firearm. Additionally, we need to make sure that the folks that are seeking ownership or possession of firearms do so legally. This can be done by shoring up some of the loopholes in our current legislation that allow people to purchase firearms from private sellers without undergoing background checks. We also can require folks to prove that they can safely handle a firearm and understand the mechanics of said fire arm. We need to implement some red flag laws. If red flag laws had been in place in Uvalde the young man who murdered those innocent children and their teachers last spring would not have been able to retain possession of his weapons.

There are other things that we need to address with the educational front. We really need to re-examine the psychological toll of high stakes standardized testing, the real cost of having what I call mega schools. (Those are campuses with 3 to 4000+ kids in a single building.) Additionally, we need to re-examine how we evaluate successful schools and teachers. Over the past 20 years we have strayed away from listening to educational professionals about what is best for school planning and children. We have bought into the idea that standardize metrics are the best measure for success and the only way to evaluate good teachers and students. I firmly believe that we need to reestablish community schools with smaller class sizes.

Some of these solutions are based on my experience as a parent and educator. I also sought out the expert opinions of folks at various levels of law-enforcement, various levels of education, various levels of child development, and child psychologist. I also poured over an extensive amount of research before I came to these conclusions.