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Today unfortunately is the day of the school lockdown and the school  lockdown drill. This isn’t to say that the era of the traditional fire drill has passed. Surely by my count in public schools, I have managed just as many fire drills as I have been involved with lockdown drills.  But today I think this equanimity has more to do with the tradition of fire drills than any real perception that school fires are as much of a danger today as the events that lead to lockdowns. I cannot even seem to find in my usual research just one person who has been killed in a school fire in the twenty years since the Columbine shooting massacre. 

On the other hand, when I Google “how many people killed in American school violence since Columbine?”, I have received the response of a Washington Post article in March that 187,000 students in 193 American schools have experienced school shootings, with 129 students and teachers and education associates shot dead already with 255 injured,  Since that article appeared  and has been widely syndicated, another eight students and two teachers were massacred by a student bringing a gun into a classroom in

In fact, this year, more students have been killed in their schools than have American soldiers killed this year by all enemy forces and terrorists throughout the world.

Let’s look at how many have been killed in fires at school over the past 50 years

For that, let me quote Pulitzer Prize nominated Lt. Col. Dave Grossman given at a public presentation five year ago at the California Police Officers Association:

“”Kids killed... school fire... North America... 50 years... How many? Zero. That’s right. Not one single kid has been killed by school fire anywhere in North America in the past half a century,” said Grossman. “Now, how many kids have been killed by school violence?”

Surely we are not trivializing with this zero death history  the importance of fire deaths from schools – maybe all these fire drills we are having have really kept us this at this zero mortality rate.

But my real feeling is that fire drills are practiced so often because we feel comfortable with them.  We are used to them.  But I also sense that we are not used to lockdown drill, and so we are not adjusting them to our ever emerging realities.

Let me give you what I feel is a harrowing example of this in our present school lockdown drill regimen.

We practice lockdowns today only for the students that have no present danger in their classroom. So we practice what these classrooms have already been doing when the school is somewhere else under assault – we lock the door, we tape paper to any glass that an outside assailant could use to look into the classroom.  We huddle into the corner of a room that would be most difficult to shoot at through the door.

But we do nothing to prepare any of the students would be in the same classroom as the students.

So what do the students need and teacher in the class with the assailant? One teacher at Santa Fe High School saved a number of students in his class by throwing basketball at the intruder, which distracted the shooter longer enough for the teacher to overpower him.

Certainly that basketball being in the right place at the right time was so much better than simply deadly helplessness taking over the room.

I have read that some schools are allowing some qualified teachers to carry guns.  My only problem with that is that I know most teachers would refuse to carry guns to school, and the assailants who typically do almost a professional vetting of the schools they assault are more likely to invade those classes where a gun-bearing teacher is unlike. But I also like the idea that has been reported about some school districts having a supply of rocks in the room to throw at an intruder.  I will always like an idea that increases the odds of the innocent students being even just a bit safer.

Certainly, there is no reason to my thinking why schools do not have some armed supervisors on every campus, in addition to an armed law enforcement officer.  We call the security guard at school a supervisor, and since the presence of armed security guards has worked so effectively at banks over the decades, why are we so reluctant to have the same kind of armed security guards at a school?

And surely, every year, there should be at least one lockdown drill that ends in an all-school assembly that is hosted not by any teacher or administrator, but one headed more like the local county sheriff.  And the county sheriff should talk to the students about every aspect of a school assault that the students can hear.

Finally, every school district should have a consultation with the local Homeland Security Office on how to protect schools in the way that federal infrastructures are being protected now against terrorists.

Of course, to make all these changes even for the greater safety of children, someone in the school district office has to put his or her name

on these changes.  And historically, making changes gives people the willies.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.