How a Pre-Columbine Mindset is Threatening School Safety
Shootings, hit lists, explosives, and even a murder do not seem to be keeping some school administrators and boards from hunkering down into a pre-Columbine mentality on school safety.
School Administrators and Boards Playing School Safety “On-the-Cheap”
Hiding behind challenging fiscal times, some school “leaders” are playing school safety “on the cheap” in spite of high-profile incidents occurring in their schools. Not only are districts cutting violence prevention and security programs, some are dodging taking appropriate action even after a crisis or threatening situation.
Following a murder of one school administrator and the shooting of another administrator, a school superintendent responded to my suggestion that he hold a community meeting on school safety by saying, “That could get out of control.”
Another district called for a proposal for a security consultation after two separate shooting incidents in two years, including one where homemade explosives were found at a student suspect’s home. The top administration never responded back once they got the proposal and a mid-level administrator implied they needed the services, but the district was facing budget cuts.
Yet another school district that had a student with a hit list and explosives found on a police search of his home first asked for a proposal for comprehensive services, then asked for a second proposal reduced by 50% after they got the first proposal and cost. A week later, the urgency for services disappeared quickly as the administration responded that they decided to hold out in hopes of getting a grant for what they acknowledged was sorely needed school safety support.
And one school board member from a suburban school district, when introduced to me at a meeting, offered these as the first words out of his mouth: “We don’t have a violence problem. We have a budget problem.”
School Officials Hide Behind Tightening Budgets, Do Little on School Safety
It has been documented that too many penny-wise and pound-foolish school boards and administrators have put violence prevention and school security programs first on the chopping block as education budgets tighten. Now there is increasing evidence that others, even after high-profile incidents where they know they should be taking action, are hiding behind tightening budgets as an excuse to not act.
Combine these shortsighted decisions with a lame federal school safety policy and funding skewed away from violence and toward “bullying” and “climate” — and of course, “civility” — and what do we have? A pre-Columbine mindset.
There is plenty of things school safety consultants can and are doing. A close look will tell you most of us are not starving. In fact, most of us are not as frustrated by the business end of the inaction by school “leaders” on proposals as we are by an education community which is increasingly falling back into a pre-Columbine ”head in the sand” mentality toward school safety.
Chat with an experienced school safety expert and they will tell you that we are in a climate in the education community today which is blinded by tunnel-vision focuses on two issues: Budgets and improving test scores.
Pre-Columbine Mentality Returns to Education Community
They will also tell you that while they do not wish to see anyone harmed in a school, the climate is particularly ripe for the next Columbine-like incident (or one even worse) to occur any day now. The handwriting is truly on the wall.
It is likely that when the next major school violence incident occurs, legislators, educators, and others will once again start the head-scratching and questions of, “How did this happen? What could we have done to prevent it?”
When that occurs, I’ll be standing nearby with some mirrors. All that many education “leaders” will need to do is look in the mirror for the answer.
Are your school board members and administrators in a pre-Columbine mindset regarding school safety?
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