Dear Board of Education Members,
I am sorry that I am unable to attend the next meeting of the Board, but I would like to share my thoughts on your proposal to put police in every school in our district.
First, I applaud you for your concern for the safety of our students. I know this is a difficult time for every parent, teacher and administrator, and it is good to see you are taking everyone’s concerns to heart. I have a difficult time accepting, however, that the proposal is a good one – for the students and teachers, or for the community at large.
We must face the fact that perfect safety is impossible to guarantee, whether in our schools, our homes or our world. Accidents happen, and terrible people exist; there is nothing we can do to change those realities of nature. Having an armed guard or officer in every school might give the impression of safety, but it will do very little to increase it.
For this proposal to work, we would also need to remove the glass from any outside door, since as we saw in Newtown, someone with a gun could shoot their way through any door, even if it is locked. We would probably need to remove all the classroom windows, too, as they could be shot out to gain entrance as well. Then we would need to end outside recess and physical education, as those students are completely vulnerable to an attack from far beyond the school’s walls.
But to be really safe, we would also need to put armed guards on each school bus. And at each bus stop, where kids wait for the bus.
Then our town will have to address the problem of supermarkets and stores where our kids congregate. And our churches and temples, too. And the rec centers, and…
If our district has the money to pay all these police officers, couldn’t we, instead, hire more teachers? I have to believe that every student in our town would benefit every day from smaller classes, more personal attention and perhaps even enough teacher-student interaction to be able to recognize a student in trouble and get help before he or she decides to go on a killing spree.
I know that you have our best interests at heart. But please, take the time to consider the true effect of your proposal. If we make our schools into jails, complete with armed guards, we will have created an entirely new problem. We cannot protect our children from everything, but we can protect them from fear by showing them that we are not afraid. Ben Franklin said it best: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Thank you very much for listening.
Rabbi Donald A. Weber