The Hardened School House

I attended Greenfield schools from 1st grade trough graduation. After 10 years away I returned as a member of the teaching staff in 1970, retiring in 1996. Except for 1 year teaching at a California high school, Greenfield is all I ever knew.

Greenfield schools, by design, are very open. There are many buildings and lots of exterior doors. In my 38 years of being on that campus as either a student or a teacher I can only recall two instances of a potential violent threat. I remember a student in the elementary grades building a bomb and placing it under a teacher’s desk. I don’t remember if the bomb was real or how knowledge of it was learned.

The second occasion took place immediately outside my classroom door when a student shot himself in the torso. At no time were other students in danger. The firearm was immediately sequestered and the student attended to.

Sometime after my retirement the administration began employing a part-time security officer to roam the halls of the various buildings. Later this part-time guard was replaced with a full-time armed police officer.

I was always bothered by this. I hated the thought that we had become so fearful that we had to have armed security on our campus . Schools serve many community functions and I hate the idea that these beautiful buildings and grounds may have to become an armed encampment, a facility where the public is locked out and students locked in as if it were a prison and they were the inmates.

Oliver North was recently chosen to be the president of the NRA and I listened to him claim that we have so many school shooting because of violence in our society and boys being on Ritalin. He also talked about the NRA’s program, National School Shield. I went to the NRA’s website and read about the program. Essentially it does nothing to address the number of firearms in America and the ease of acquiring them. While he claimed that the NRA would help custom tailor a plan for each school, those plans usually call for more armed staff, fewer entrances. and a lot more metal detectors.

In a system like  Greenfield’s I can’t conceive the logistics and cost required to carry out such a program. Greenfield’s campus consist of many buildings and a constant flow of students every 52 minutes. To me it would be near impossible and prohibitively expensive to protect every student all the time. How do you protect a group of students moving outdoors as they go from the art building to the main high school building? How big of a razor wire fence would that require and what would stop a shooter from standing outside that fence and opening fire on transitioning students?

As much as I hate it something has to change in all the nation’s schools. But the answer can’t just be turning schools into prisons. Sometime this society has to deal with the multiple reasons a person would take up arms and turn against a school, an office, a factory, or just an individual out for a walk in the sunshine.

Sorry Ollie but  while kids on Ritalin playing League of Legends has little to do with it, the radical and non-compromising policies of your organization does!

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