Sunday, January 10, 2016

No armed police in my school, please

"It'll be a sad day for this country if children can safely attend their classes only under the protection of armed guards." ~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Credit: Targeted: Pro Guns v. Gun Control in Schools FB page
On January 8th, reported:
A bill before the state Legislature would create a new category of police officer, stationing armed, retired cops under the age of 65 inside New Jersey schools.
The bill (S2983) establishes "Class Three" special police officers designated to provide security at both public and private schools. They would not replace school resource officers, who are specially trained full-time police officers stationed at some schools.  
The bill, drafted in the wake of the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Thursday. It's unclear if it will get a full vote before the end of the legislative session next week.
The bill is sponsored by Senators Anthony Bucco (R-25) and Steve Sweeney (D-3).

Writing at Blue Jersey in response to this article, student activist, Melissa Katz, writes about how, if signed into law, this bill would exacerbate the school-to-prison pipeline that currently plagues many of our school districts serving students of color:
This bill will only further criminalize our youth, especially our youth of color. And what does “keep them safe” mean for students of color when practices such as increased police presence does the very opposite of “keep them safe” by, for example, contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline? The school to prison pipeline, as defined by the ACLU, refers to the “policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems (“What Is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?“). While schools that implement zero-tolerance policies are aiming to make their environments safer, research has concluded “schools with excessive discipline tend to be and feel less safe than schools that have developed rich cultures of support, dignity, and evidence-based discipline policies” (“Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships and Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools, A Guide for Educators“).

Credit: The Hartford Courant

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, a survey of about 10,000 teachers across the country was conducted to see how they felt about a variety of school safety issues. The survey concluded that:

Most educators say they feel safe in school and believe their students feel the same. They do not, however, agree so unanimously that their schools are safe from gun violence. Although the reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting and other instances of school violence have been explosive publicly, the most common new safety measure being adopted is locking doors or keeping fewer open during the school day. The majority of educators feel an armed guard would increase school safety, though, do not desire to be an armed presence in schools themselves.
I seem to be in that 2.8% because I do not want armed police in my building every day. I wrote about it last month, on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook terrorist attack:
No longer do we only have fire drills, we now have lock down drills, where kids practice hiding from terrorist invasions. A far cry from the 1950's 'duck and cover' drills against nameless, faceless Communists who were thousands of miles away. We now have to hide from people who could be our neighbors: that strange guy, that angry teenager. 
Classroom doors in many districts must now remain closed and locked at all times. And that's so much fun in the warm weather when there's no air conditioning. Staff must use a key to lock and unlock every door in the building, even storage closets and copy rooms. 
Many districts now have high-tech devices that scan the drivers license of every visitor. And police regularly walk the halls. 
All this does not make me feel safer. Quite the contrary, I feel less safe because it reminds me we live in a very violent society. We have to do all this because some nut job with a gun could force his way into my school at any moment and blow us all away. We have to do this because a powerful minority is holding this country hostage just so their members have the 'right' to own WMDs. I'm sorry, I didn't sign up to be a prison guard, and my students aren't prisoners. But that's what it's become because elected officials are too afraid of losing all that NRA PAC money and possibly losing their next election.
All this is in addition to the metal detectors already present in many inner city schools.

Two months after 9/11, I flew to California out of Newark Airport. There was a massive security presence—as well there should have been. Armed National Guardsmen with bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled the terminals. I felt safe, but I also felt enormous unease because we were at war

While the US may not technically be at war with crazy loons who have unfettered access to guns, we are being held hostage by the NRA which prohibits us from enacting and enforcing meaningful gun legislation that will not take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, but will greatly reduce the chances of these crazy loons and other terrorists getting guns. Sadly, this pushes legislators to enact laws such as this that limit our freedom under the guise of 'protecting' our children.

Some of my political and spiritual heroes are those who preach(ed) nonviolence as a path to conflict resolution including Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Buddha, Christ, The Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela. In a world full of conflict, they preached that violence begets violence, and "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

Of the top 50 most dangerous cities on earth, four are in the US (St. Louis is in the top 20); three are in Africa; the rest are in Mexico, Central and South America. And the US has the most gun deaths of similarly-developed countries on the planet—by a huge margin. More guns equals more gun violence. It really is that simple.

The day that armed police are a mandatory presence in all schools is the day this country surrenders "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" to the NRA. We must not continue to put bandaids on gunshot wounds. This bill does just that.

Adding: I relate more to this...

Kent State

Than this...