Schools Aren’t Fortresses

I remember lockdown experiences with my own students in Newtown, CT. Crowding all my students into the safest, out of sight, place in my rooms—and locking the doors.
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Schools, just like our homes, aren’t fortresses. Some are more protected than others, but they are not impregnable. Forcibly getting in is possible, and causing harm doesn’t necessarily have to come in from the front or back doors.

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I remember lockdown experiences with my own students in Newtown, CT. Crowding all my students into the safest, out of sight, place in my rooms—and locking the doors. My students were old enough to understand hiding from terror, but I know each was as frightened in a noisy, pounding-door practice as they were when we did have a real lock down, when there was a shooting in a neighboring town. I’ve taught the little ones, too, and those babies are just that—babies. A teacher, huddling with a classroom of babies, against an armed intruder is incomprehensible, but that was the reality in Newtown.

Administrators, teachers, and students planned, and practiced the procedures. But schools are not fortresses. Our protection from someone intent on harming others with weapons is a locked door and hiding. You and I know, that’s like covering yourself with a blanket, hoping not to be noticed.

I’ve been teary-eyed, wondering why. There is no way to logically understand, because this was the act of one individual with access to weapons.

Here’s some logic anyway. No one needs a gun, and having more than one is crazy. There is no argument. And after years of spending nothing on discovering, diagnosing, prescribing to, recognizing, and yes, notifying authorities to all individuals with dark and evil tendencies—we need to come up with the funds—as well as the funds to keep tabs on them.

I’m sure that the solution, if there is one, will be more complex than that. I’m grieving for the families, and extended families of those babies, and for the loss of those educators. I’m sad, angry and helpless.

Hug kids. This was the act of one, evil person, who was allowed to slip through some very large mental health cracks. He was able to get his hands on more weapons and ammo than should be in his alternate universe. While I know that what happened in Newtown will immediately increase the protective procedures at all schools—schools should continue to be open, welcoming, education hugs for our kids, teachers and parents. Schools can never be fortresses.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to my friend Al, who is always good at calming me down enough to allow me to look more clearly at things, especially during times of stress.

Ken Royal is a teacher/education and education technology blogger/reporter, video interviewer, podcaster, education event news commentator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology experience. His teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. Read more of Ken’s work at Royal Reports.

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