Opinion
Education Opinion

Classroom Doors as Sad Commentary

By Walt Gardner — January 18, 2013 1 min read

Ordinarily, a door is just a door. But in public schools across the country today, it is also a symbol of a troubling dilemma (“To lock classroom doors or not?” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 14). Should classroom doors be locked when students are present to shield them from outside danger, or should they be unlocked to protect students from inside danger?

I have reference now to the Sandy Hook Elementary School carnage in Newtown (the former) and to the Miramonte Elementary School child abuse in Los Angeles (the latter). The debate comes down to which poses the greater threat to students. Given the reality of public school campuses, I think it’s better to keep doors locked. Principals have master keys, which mean they can enter any classroom without notice to deter sexual abuse. This doesn’t guarantee that students will be safe from outside predators, of course, but it does buy a little more time for armed campus police to rush to the scene in the event of a shooter.

On a larger note, the fact that locked or unlocked doors are even an issue is extremely troubling. Schools should be sanctuaries, where teachers can teach and students are safe. When I was a student in K-12, classroom doors were left unlocked except at the end of the school day when both teachers and students had departed. No one gave a second thought to the matter.

It was only when I began teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District did I become aware. I guess I was lucky because my classroom was a bungalow on the periphery of the sprawling campus. The location alone would have been an easy target for armed intruders. Making matters worse, the school had no telephones in bungalows, and cellphones were not yet in widespread existence. The best protection offered was a combination of armed plainclothes security and administrators who patrolled the campus.

It’s impossible to predict if the recent tragedies and scandals will be repeated elsewhere. The best preparation can go only so far. That’s why I intend to devote an upcoming column to the contentious question of whether teachers should be armed.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read