Teachers set the tone of their classrooms, build a warm environment, mentor and nurture students, become role models, and listen and look for signs of trouble. The most common role a teacher plays in the classroom is to teach knowledge to children.
What is our country coming to? President Trump and Betsy Devos support teachers being armed at schools during school hours. This is not the way to make schools safer. It’s not only common sense, preferred by teachers, school leaders, communities and most importantly students, we don’t want the presence of guns in our schools. I’m encouraging parents to follow the conversation on school safety. Parents and communities are a vital part of supporting the importance of school safety. I agree that we do need to improve the safety of schools. However, arming teachers is not the way!
Here are some things that can help school leaders and parents come together on making schools safe.
A – Engaging all Stakeholders
Getting the input of stakeholders is one thing, but getting the investment of time, financial contributions or partnerships is another. It’s critically important for parents to be invested in helping make schools safer. This can be done through parents:
- Being involve in parent leadership
- Speaking at Board meetings
- Requesting to be involved in strategic planning around safety
B – SEL (Social Emotional Learning)
There are many schools in school Districts across the country that are already struggling with how to effectively implement SEL (Social Emotional Learning) in the school program. SEL cannot be another educational experiment. We must invest in SEL and the support staff (counselors, psychologist, clinicians, social workers, graduation coaches, family engagement coordinators, etc). There should be a required trainings on cultural sensitivity, crisis management and family engagement for all school and district level staff. Community engagement best practices could be implemented to train police officers and school resource officers on how to engage with schools and communities. Schools are the heart of our communities. SEL keeps the heart of our communities strong. Arming teachers with guns will destroy them.
C- Improving School Security
There are grants available to help schools improve their security with updated cameras and technology. I encourage my neighborhood associations to partner with the schools by having the neighborhood watch support monitoring the schools grounds, conducting community safety walks, volunteering through the school to be bus monitors at bus stops.
The RISE Schools in East Point, Georgia led by Davion Lewis, Executive Director even has a gated fence. The schools also use a Responsive Classroom that supports the restorative culture they are building. The Responsive Classroom program infuses social emotional learning into the academic and school culture programs of the school. I have witness the impact of this program with the increase in parents engaging with our school, reduction in student write ups and improved social engagement skills of our scholars.
There are many ways to improve the safety of our schools. Where President Trump and Betsy Devos support the idea that arming teachers will make schools safer, that doesn’t have to be our choice. I believe that schools and communities working together to create policies that keep schools gun free and safe is what is best for our children.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.