For the past two weeks, my local papers have reported on public hearings focused on the topic of safety in Fairfax County public schools. The reporting has been detailed, however gave short shrift to people who disagree with some of the safety recommendations under consideration. I am one of those people, and voiced my concerns at last week’s public hearing.
Central to the themes in the Fairfax County Public Schools Safety and Security Recommendations is the belief that if we simply create a “positive school climate” we’ll keep our children safe. Here is what the document says: “Research has shown that the most effective way to ensure a safe school is to have a positive school climate where students know rules and the consequences for breaking them.” (There is no citation for the “research.”)
As I said in my remarks, rules do not matter to people who have in their mind to commit murder. (Just ask the Parkland school shooter.) But authors of the Recommendations seem myopically focused on social engineering constructs and bureaucratic doublespeak to protect school communities without the need for the presence of trained, armed personnel.
If you want to gain a better understanding of what is driving the Fairfax County School Board’s decisions, read the Safety and Security Recommendations, and both the Children’s Behavioral Health Blueprint and the Caring Culture Report to which they refer. Your head will spin, maybe explode. They are a morass of circuitous policies and procedures, written by bureaucrats to justify their positions (which are increasing in number) and indigestible to anyone whose job is to keep school communities safe.
School shooters have been young males with a history of mental instability, perhaps exacerbated by prescription drugs. But authorities have been discouraged from effectively communicating about these young men by programs instituted by the Obama Justice Department: the PROMISE program and its twin Restorative Justice. These programs gained recognition after the Parkland shooting, as we learned of the dysfunction they create in identifying destructive behaviors. Their tentacles are woven throughout school system documents. Sadly, these programs use the excuse of skin color to absolve students and their parents of responsibility for personal behavior.
Fifty-five years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired us with his dream that, one day, his children would “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Let us return to the standard of character.
The Fairfax County School Board must reject destructive race-baiting narratives and appeal to students, parents, faculty, and employees to uphold standards of character that will promote civil behavior which bonds their community, not tears it apart with suspicion.
When attempts to forge civil society — in the classroom or community at large – fail, law enforcement must be available to step in, stop violence and restore order. Good guys with guns do stop bad guys with guns. They keep our communities safe, when we fail to do so ourselves.