(NASHVILLE) Professional Educators of Tennessee Executive Director and CEO J. C. Bowman said, “There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed in school safety. This area deserves more scrutiny. We cannot lose focus that six innocent people lost their lives at the Covenant School in Nashville.”
Teaching is not an eight-hour-a-day job. School safety is now on the minds of most educators. But how bad is it?
One safety expert described schools a being unprepared to handle what is happening. That means no ballistic glass, no trauma kits, and no security cameras.”
That is precisely what Governor Bill Lee has put forth in his school safety plan which mirrors what Professional Educators of Tennessee has championed in the last few years.
Governor Lee is long rumored to have national ambition for higher office, and his ability to make schools safe gives him the ability to lead nationally on this critical issue.
Bowman noted, “We strongly support Governor Lee’s plan to add $30 million to expand a statewide homeland security network with 122 agents serving students at both public and private schools; $140 million to establish a School Resource Officer (SRO) grant fund to place a trained, armed security guard at every public school; $20 million for public school security upgrades; $7 million for private school security upgrades; and, $8 million for additional school-based behavioral health liaisons across the state. This is in addition to other safety items that are already in the budget.”
The public doesn’t always think beyond the traditional classrooms. They must include daycare, church pre-schools, and obviously private schools.
Professional Educators of Tennessee feels that it is critical that every school and daycare in this state develops a safety plan. They need to continuously look to improve that plan, at least annually if not more often. Buildings must be safe. Look at entry points and secure them. Strongly consider using ballistic glass.
Bowman underscored, “Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. And these situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes. We need people who can respond quickly. We also know that training must happen for educators and students. The Stop the Bleed program will also be added to the growing list of tasks that educators must learn. We must make everyone aware of their responsibility. We need safety drills. It is better to practice and not need to use these skills than to find out we are unprepared too late. We need to also look at safety for special education children.”
The publication Ed Week observed that school shooters normally have several things in common: “They suffered early-childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. They were angry or despondent over a recent event, resulting in feelings of suicidality.” Mental health is now a critical element in public education. We are likely heading for a debate on guns as well.
A former police officer and paramedic Tracey Mendenhall added, “Parents need to make sure that those teachers get the training that they need and the equipment that they need.”
Professional Educators of Tennessee is a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville.