School officials consistently proclaim that the safety of students is their No. 1 priority. Yet too often they refuse to take the necessary steps to achieve that goal (“An alarm bell on school safety,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 2). I thought of that once again after reading about a shooting at Salvador Castro Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In this particular case, a girl accidentally discharged a gun, wounding two students, one critically. The district had engaged for years in a policy of random wanding. During the 2014-15 school year, these searches yielded more than 800 weapons, most of them knives and blades. Fifteen were firearms. Nevertheless, pressure from civil rights advocates and some parents, claiming the searches were humiliating, resulted in the policy being followed erratically.
I don’t understand the district’s ambivalence. It can’t it both ways. If student safety is indeed paramount, which I believe it should be, then embarrassment or humiliation is a small price to pay. No one likes the wanding and searches taking place at airports across the country. But all accept it as necessary. Why should schools be any different? What’s more important: hurting the feelings of students or protecting them from harm? I’d hate to be a principal who tried to comfort a parent whose child was injured or killed.
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.