John Jarpe: Take time to consider student safetyPublished 9:46am Thursday, January 3, 2013
By John Jarpe, Supt. Brandywine Community Schools
After the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Conn., there are many well-meaning people who advocate that teachers should be trained to use firearms and have access to loaded weapons at school.
Others have offered to provide trained, licensed armed volunteers who could patrol school hallways and grounds. Another proposal calls for police officers or armed, uniformed guards assigned to all school buildings.
We must carefully study and consider any and all possible solutions to improved school safety.
We have already taken new precautions at all of our buildings at Brandywine, and we will do more.
The safety of all boys and girls must be foremost in our minds every single day. However, I cannot say right away today whether providing guns in schools, even if the guns are in the right people’s hands, will necessarily be the best, reasoned action we should take.
As an example, consider the idea of training and arming teachers. Think about the best teachers we’ve all ever known, at all grade levels. They were caring people. They worked hard to make sure everyone in class did their best. They also could make quick decisions and think on their feet, often anticipating kids’ questions or struggles with concepts and adjusting their teaching to help kids. It’s been said that good teachers make far more decisions every single day than many other professionals make in a week’s time. And, the very best teachers make the most right decisions. I’ve said this many times: Teaching is a very hard job — when you do it right.
So, do we add one more life or death decision to this professional’s often hectic duties?
Some of those same excellent teachers we all had could sometimes forget things during their very busy days.
Failing to lock a desk or closet or cabinet where a loaded weapon is stored in a classroom could have unimaginably tragic consequences.
Other solutions may be better, but we must think them all through and make the best decisions.
We must never forget Sandy Hook and we have to all work together to provide the best solutions to school safety.
John Jarpe is the Superintendent of Brandywine Community Schools in Niles Charter Township.