January 12, 2013

False Sense of Security

Subtitle: Knee-jerk reactions to a psychopathic massacre.

For those of you with kids in your life and those that pay attention to what your tax dollars pay for in local school districts, I ask, what has the reaction, from a school security standpoint, been to the Newtown massacre?

With the tragedy happening one week before my kids were released for Christmas vacation, there were just a few things that had been done to step up security - but apparently school officials were busy little bees over the break.

The school district that serves my home (my kids go to a charter school in a neighboring town) has also taken some steps to increase security.  I have a couple of friends that serve on the school board and was pleased that they consulted with some very impressive people about training for their staff - which is exactly the glaring security gap that schools (and businesses and individuals...) have.  I don't know how much further they have gotten, but that is also a good thing - I appreciate that they are avoiding the frenzy and resistance that would come should they talk publicly about plans or potential strategies.

Other schools seem to be taking a similar path, I read a recent news story about 'Avi', a former Israeli soldier whose company has been hired to consult with a Dallas private school:
'Avi' doesn't want his last name revealed. The school doesn't want to be identified, and neither do parents taking Avi's class.
"We teach you how to see a suspect before he comes here," he told the parents Thursday night.
"If you get it in your veins, in your understanding, it's not so hard," he said.
Avi runs MAYDAY Preemptive Counter Terrorism Strategies, an international firm that has worked with governments and corporations across the world. He believe schools should have gates on campus to limit entry, portals visitors must pass through, and doors that can be locked with a remote control. However he said what's more important is for a threat to be identified before it comes on campus.
Training!  Yes! I don't much agree with his affinity for gates and portals - because that isn't the kind of world I want to live in.  I want my kids to go to school, not a prison each day.  But the prison lock-down scenario seems to be the direction my kids' school is headed.

The first knee-jerk reaction at our school is a new visitor check-in system that runs driver's licenses against real-time sex offender databases.  (Because sex offenders in schools has been such an issue).  This cracks me up because the school, formerly, had a two-page notarized affidavit that was required for them to run a background check if a parent wanted to volunteer.  Now, a marginally trained parent-volunteer takes your license, and runs it through the system without notice or warning as to what is being done (unless you happened to read every word of the school newsletter).  The first false result that gets returned should cost them a pretty penny.  Little Johnnie's mom volunteering at the front window isn't likely to handle the situation with any confidentiality, poise, or preservation of rights.

The campus director is full of ideas about what is to come.  The campus used to tout its low energy use, with natural light provided by walls of windows.  Once the biggest hassle was the interruption, as kids waved to their friends as they walked by the classrooms on the way to the gym (open campus with multiple buildings that requires walking outside).  Now they are realizing that those walls of glass don't provide much protection, or cover, from un-friendlies.  I have heard talk of roll down metal curtains, keeping children indoors, perimeter fortress walls.

Is the future of our society really one where kids sit in windowless rooms, can't go outside for recess, will be sent to their parent's cars like a prisoner emerging from the prison wall, and field trips are forbidden?  I don't want to live like that.  I don't live like that - I won't live like that.  And I don't think schooling children in that environment is healthy or productive.   

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