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Sandy Hook’s Fruits: More Good Guys With Guns… But Certified Good Guys With Guns

December 11, 2017

AP reporter Michael Melia writes:

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting five years ago, districts have moved to bolster security, especially at elementary schools, which traditionally have not had police assigned to them like many high schools and middle schools. Many have hired retired officers, firefighters and other responsible adults — an approach that’s less expensive and potentially less intrusive than assigning sworn police, but one that also has raised questions about the consistency of training and standards.

It is sad but not surprising that the ultimate reaction to the shootings that took place five years ago at Sandy Hook is more security guards. And also sad BUT surprising that parents and community members are fearful that any hiring and privatization of these guard services needs to be tightly regulated. Surprising because those same groups are silent about the ongoing deregulation and privatization of every other individual hired by the schools. In the case of school districts, it seems that taxpayers will do anything they can to lower costs, especially if the unions push back against it. That effort has led to the widespread hiring of non-certified and inexperienced teachers (i.e. TFA “graduates”) and the use of computer technology to increase class size and thereby diminish the need for teachers. But when it comes to protecting children at the door of the schoolhouse, the lack of certification standards raises questions:

The rise in the number of districts turning to private security has led to calls elsewhere to impose standards for school guards, particularly in cases where school boards allow for them to be armed.

In New Jersey, a law passed last year establishes a special class of law enforcement officers providing school security. The measure was sought by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police to encourage minimum training standards, according to the associat ion’s president, North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti. Chiefs, he said, noticed fewer police officers were being assigned to schools because of budget cuts and districts were replacing them with private security, including armed guards.

In an ideal world, we would not dream of allowing armed guards is schools… and civic leaders like Chief Parenti would be as outspoken about the replacement of experienced, certified teachers with untrained recruits and robots. But such an ideal world would require an openness to higher taxes, to focussing on the care and nurturance of children instead of their safety, and value compassion as much as it values protection.


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