To the Editor:
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric H. Holder recently called for a “national conversation” on school and youth violence in response to the high-profile beating death of a Chicago high school student (“Outcry Against Violence,” Oct. 14, 2009).
Having spent 25 years in the school safety profession, I believe we have talked this subject to death. It is time for action, not abstract discussions or paralysis-by-analysis on a topic that has already been studied and discussed for decades.
While I do not doubt the sincerity of Messrs. Duncan and Holder, I know that the average 2nd grade teacher can identify children at risk for becoming violent offenders. The question is not one of identification or diagnosis, but one of resources available to prevent and intervene once these children are identified.
In July, I was one of eight witnesses testifying at a House congressional hearing on strengthening the federal response to school safety. Two days later, a separate House committee voted to eliminate the state-grants component of the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program, resulting in a net reduction of $180 million in school safety funding.
Our nation has roller-coaster public awareness, public policy, and public funding on school and youth violence. We need sustained action, not more conversation. We need resources, not rhetoric. Elected officials’ priorities are reflected in their budgets, not their speeches.
Kenneth S. Trump
National School Safety and Security Services
A version of this article appeared in the November 04, 2009 edition of Education Week as To Make Schools Safer, Action, Not Talk, Needed