My very first blog post was a letter I wrote to my local MPPs and the Director of Education (you can read it here … seriously, you can go. I’ll wait right here). It was in response to Premier McGuinty’s announcement of a “locked door policy” at all elementary schools, in reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut last December. It was also forwarded to the Minister of Education by one of the MPPs.
I was’t actually expecting a response but it seemed as though the Director of Education, David Euale read my letter and this was what he had to say, earlier this January:
Thank you for your articulating your thoughts so well. I agree with many of your points and if this decision remains a Board based decision (rather than a provincial regulation) we will give your views serious attention.
Well, lo and behold didn’t I get another response yesterday. In my inbox was a reply from the Minister of Education. “Wow! Pretty cool,” I thought. And then I read it. Um, you tell me but is this response a reply to the letter I wrote? (Go ahead, it’s all official-like) Honestly, I’m wondering why she bothered to reply at all? I guess since I didn’t expect a response my expectations weren’t too high. According to this article (you don’t have to read this one) only 850 of 4000 elementary schools (21%) participated in the initial government program.
So to reiterate: Your letter is important. You need something. This is something. Your children’s safety is important. We need to do something. This is something.
A Globe and Mail columnist, Marcus Gee wrote this, (it sounds similar to my letter) and states:
It can’t be good for children to persuade them they live in a dangerous world with deadly threats lurking around every corner. A healthy respect for proven risks like crossing the street without looking is useful. Fear of remote threats like a mass school shooting is not.
I too, still believe a “locked door policy” only sends the wrong message to our children and other parents. Your children are now safe, but only while locked inside because, what crazy lunatic (upset mother, disgruntled husband, freaked out gang member) would ever target children or teachers outside, playing at recess and cause a ruckus, right? Nope they would just wait until the children and teachers are all locked up safely inside before being denied entry.
I just don’t see what threats are happening that all schools require locked doors at the elementary level? And somehow those threats disappear for 20 mins every recess.
I leave you with Dick. Dick knows rucksus (then I swear no more reading, my brain hurts).
Richard Vernon: [From his office] Jesus Christ Almighty!
Richard Vernon: What in Gods name is going on in here?
Richard Vernon: What was that ruckus?
Andrew Clark: Uh, what ruckus?
Richard Vernon: I was just in my office and I heard a ruckus.
Brian Johnson: Could you describe the ruckus, sir?
The Breakfast Club – 1985
The following is an email I sent before Christmas to my local MPPs and the Director of Education at our local school board in response to Premier McGuinty’s announcement of a “locked door policy” at all elementary schools in reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut this past December. It was also forwarded to the Minister of Education by one of the MPPs.
It is with a heavy heart I write to you concerning Mr. McGuinty’s decision to implement a “locked door policy” in all elementary schools in Ontario. I am horrified and deeply saddened by the events that occurred at the Sandy Hook school in the USA but I feel this policy is just a gut reaction, “we have to do something” to placate the masses, than to actually keep our children safe. I do not honestly believe the children of Ontario or Canada are really in jeopardy. There is little you can do to prevent a random act of senseless violence because it is just that, RANDOM and SENSELESS. These types of things while unbelievably tragic, are rare. Rarer than rare. I understand that people feel absolutely helpless against this kind of thing so “something” seems better than nothing but it is just feeding the safety-obsessed frenzy that is current and ever present in our society.
This is absolutely the wrong message we should be sending; “Your children were unsafe before and now they are safer”. If this is really for the safety of our children then it would lead me and children to believe they were unsafe before. They weren’t. Not in Ontario. Isn’t crime down in this country? Aren’t actual child abductions by strangers rare? Not that I do not believe it couldn’t happen here. Quite the contrary, I do believe it could happen ANYWHERE. You can not live life in fear of all the “what ifs”. I do not want my children growing up in a police state. We DO NOT need armed guards or locked doors on our public places. This is CANADA not Israel or Northern Ireland or even the United States. I truly believe this mentality only perpetuates the misinformation and misguided notion that our children and our country are unsafe.
Who are we trying to keep out? Random people? So now everyone is a threat? Again, if this is about safety then where are the bullet proof glass doors and windows on every school? What’s next razor wire and cement blocked in walls at recess? Elementary kids are STILL let outside EVERYDAY are they not? So if they are safer inside their locked-in community how long before they are not even let outside? That is ridiculous right, but where does it stop? Our society is so afraid of everything, of germs, of chemicals of strangers and now homicidal maniacs with guns. This is incredibly poor risk assessment. They are not realistic fears. I don’t expect my one letter to change anyone’s mind about these locked doors but I do want you to know not everyone is afraid. It was only about 2 years ago our previous principal, announced there would be locked doors. Before I was even able to say anything there was a public out cry in our community. It didn’t happen. We want access to our children, not have them locked in like a prison to protect them from mysterious and elusive “bad guys”. Locked doors did not prevent this terrible massacre. It still happened despite locked doors. Horrible things have ALWAYS happened. They will continue to happen. We can not stop them but we can not live in fear of them. Our children are safe. Not perfectly safe because no one ever is, but safe.
Because I DO NOT want to end up here at my child’s elementary school where no one is allowed to hold the door open for anyone:http://www.freerangekids.com/post-traumatic-stupidity-syndrome-for-safety-do-not-hold-the-door-open-for-the-parent-behind-you-at-drop-off/
And the over reactions just keep coming: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/12/this_weeks_over.html
I find it quite disturbing that our government can conjure up $10-MILLION dollars for the “safety” of student over the threat of something that happened in another country. What do you think? Why are we so safety-obsessed? Have our children been unsafe without locked doors?