Harder schools won't stop the violence

Reading, writing, arithmetic, rifles?After Columbine, thousands of school police officers...

Posted: Mar 4, 2018 6:35 AM
Updated: Mar 4, 2018 6:35 AM

Reading, writing, arithmetic, rifles?

After Columbine, thousands of school police officers were hired to make schools safer and prevent school shootings. Yet, there is no evidence that this has prevented even one school shooting over the past 20 years. Instead, each year, tens of thousands of mainly black and brown students -- nearly 70,000 in 2013-2014, for instance -- have been arrested (and sometimes assaulted) at school for routine behavior infractions. And those are just the numbers from the schools that report data -- not all do.

In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, discussion about how to better protect students from gun violence has elicited many ideas.

Donald Trump has argued that we need to take steps to "harden" our schools with more hardware, metal detectors, and armed teachers. He and others who make this argument miss the point. What our students and our educators actually need are what some might call softer schools and school systems, with cultures and climates that promote empathy, civility, respect, collaboration and community.

Children do not need guns in their schools, they need relationships with adults who they know care about them. Our educators need the resource of time and trust in their abilities to develop relationships with each and every student, and particularly students, who are marginalized, traumatized, disengaged and disaffected. It is meaningful relationships with trusted adults that move students from profiles of risk to profiles of resilience and that promote student health and prevent student tragedies.

Over the past two decades, in the name of education reform, public schools and their teachers have been vilified -- so much so that many are leaving the profession and many would-be young educators are opting for other careers. Some states have seen reductions in enrollment in teacher preparation programs of over 70% in the last 10 years, and almost half the teachers surveyed by the National Educational Association in 2014 responded that they had considered leaving the profession.

Armed teachers and the real possibility of dying on the job will not help the current climate and teacher shortages across the nation. Education reform's singular, obsessive and (failed) focus on testing and metrics also shifted our attention away from the minds of young people and what they really need and equally shifted attention away from their hearts and souls. This environment does not support the well-being of teachers to support the increasingly complex needs of their young learners.

Every time there is a tragedy in our schools, a suicide or homicide, or mass homicide as in the case of Parkland, school and communities mobilize trained grief counselors who are essential after a tragic event. What we do not do is mobilize the will and resources to provide the mental health services in either our schools or communities that are necessary for preventive care and support. In Massachusetts we have some of the wealthiest and resourced school districts in the country. Many districts have nurses, social workers and psychologists in every school and even with that, schools struggle to meet the levels of anxiety, stress and complexity of need of many students.

The lack of basic resources in many schools, unrealistic expectations and immense pressure and stress creates school cultures and climates that are characterized by anxiety. This is magnified in schools that educate our students with the least advantage and opportunity, schools where mostly black and brown children attend segregated schools in communities which are often the ones most affected by gun violence

It is also most likely that more armed personnel in schools, teachers or officers will disproportionately endanger the lives of students of color. The Broward County School District, home to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School the place that has produced such a groundswell of necessary activism against gun violence, also has one of the nation's highest racial disparities in school discipline -- meaning the gap between the punishments white students and students of color receive for similar infractions. But this disparity is rampant and persistent nationwide. If students of color are already more likely to be harshly punished than their white counterparts, then more officers and more guns can only exacerbate problems, not solve them.

It should be no surprise that this post-Columbine generation of students suffers from levels of stress, depression and anxiety that are unprecedented. Every day in schools from the most affluent to the most under-resourced, educators are managing students who come to class with complex personal and educational needs and complex risk profiles -- students who threaten to hurt themselves and students who threaten to hurt others.

We want to make violence and trauma the exception, not the rule. If we paint Nikolas Cruz as a sociopathic monster and blame individual failures of the particular child welfare worker, the school, the mental health counselors, the students, the Florida FBI, the school resource officer, the superintendent, it makes us feel safer, like this cannot happen in anytown USA.

But it can and unfortunately will. The system failed Nikolas Cruz and the system failed all the students and adults who lost their lives at his hands. Our systems will continue to fail young men like Nikolas Cruz who themselves carry lives of loss and trauma.

We do not provide adequate wraparound supports, which are an essential mechanism for providing integrated, family-centered and strengths-based preventative services for students and families with complex needs, or adequate funding for child welfare or mental health services. We do not have adequate universal health care and universal coverage and parity for mental health services.

Sadly, there is probably a Nikolas Cruz in every school system in America, a young man with significant trauma and loss who is alienated, disengaged and angry. Sadly, our government and politicians have failed to limit access to military grade weaponry, which allows young men like Cruz easy access to this arsenal.

If more guns could solve this problem, Florida and Florida's schools would be the safest in the nation -- it's a state where, according to its Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, nearly 2 million people are permitted to carry concealed weapons. There have been three mass shootings, in which four or more people have been killed in a single incident, in Florida since 2016. Recently, Florida state senator Dennis Baxley noted that he does not see "any interest in the Florida Senate to change gun control and access. We're pretty comfortable that freedom works." Until we stop fetishizing guns in the name of freedom, our children and citizens will continue to be victims of mass shootings.

Platitudes and prayers are not going to fix this. Metal detectors and teachers with guns are not going to fix this. It is time to have a real national conversation on the health and well-being of our children and the health and well-being of our schools. There is no quick fix but there is hope. The astute and intelligent voices of our young people are heartening. Maybe this will be the time to take back our schools and communities from the gun lobby. Maybe this will be the time for a real conversation about what our children and educators need in their schools. Who better to lead that conversation for a real school reform movement and systems change than our young student activists?

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 609387

Reported Deaths: 7743
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1262491796
Ramsey52997910
Dakota47216475
Anoka43200465
Washington27664296
Stearns22659227
St. Louis18245319
Scott17686139
Wright16518153
Olmsted13503103
Sherburne1212396
Carver1073749
Clay829692
Rice8249111
Blue Earth769944
Crow Wing687999
Kandiyohi669885
Chisago626954
Otter Tail590087
Benton585198
Goodhue485574
Douglas477781
Mower477533
Winona463552
Itasca462768
Isanti445566
McLeod434261
Morrison427762
Beltrami410163
Nobles409850
Steele400719
Polk390772
Becker389157
Lyon365054
Carlton356958
Freeborn350734
Pine337323
Nicollet334045
Mille Lacs314856
Brown308640
Le Sueur299527
Cass288133
Todd288133
Meeker265444
Waseca240723
Martin236933
Roseau212221
Wabasha20833
Hubbard197741
Dodge18943
Renville183146
Redwood178141
Houston175416
Cottonwood168124
Wadena165023
Fillmore158910
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139237
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11396
Murray107310
Swift107318
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84320
Wilkin83813
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3815
Lake of the Woods3474
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
Rochester
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 78°
Mason City
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 71°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 73°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 79°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
The heat will stick around this weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Hot and Dry to Finish the Weekend

Image

Soldiers Rock fundraiser in Kasson

Image

Ryan's Evening Forecast (7/24/21)

Image

Med City FC hosts professional soccer team

Image

Honkers get the win over the Loggers

Image

Community weighs in as RPS reevaluates masking rules for students

Image

Community weighs in as RPS considers mask policy

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (7/23/21)

Image

Ear of Corn Water Tower Nears Completion

Image

Jeopardy Weather

Community Events