This is a time of sorrow for Nashville and Tennessee. Six innocent people are dead. Many more children, teachers, and school staff will carry emotional and psychological scars for the rest of their lives. It is difficult to explain what causes violence, or the painful ripple effect that it inflicts on our community. The sorrow to families is unimaginable.
Educators, just like students and parents are traumatized by violence on school campuses. Schools must be safe zones for students and teachers. We must do everything to stop school shootings. Robert Kennedy was right: "violence breeds violence." Preventing school violence must be a state and national imperative. We must have the political will to break this cycle.
It is our moral responsibility to make the world safe for our children. Our schools can no longer be easy targets for those who wish to harm others. We all need to try a little harder to make that happen. The remainder of this legislative session and for years to come will be dominated by the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville.
As we have seen far too frequently, our schools are easy targets for those who wish to harm others. When premeditated attacks and school shootings occur, they are usually over within minutes. Most of the time law enforcement is simply not able to respond quickly enough to the event and lives are needlessly lost.
Metropolitan Nashville Police did a heroic job, getting to the scene quickly and saving countless lives. They never hesitated to rush into danger and eliminate the threat. They did the right thing in the face of terror. However, having an on-site school resource officer could provide an immediate response to any school-related emergency could be the difference between life and death. An onsite SRO makes wait time unnecessary.
SROs in Schools Legislation, SB 1400 by Senator Shane Reeves, and HB 1174 by Rep. Michael Hale will be heard this week. It has already passed Senate Education. The legislation will require each local education agency (LEA) to assign at least one full-time school resource officer (SRO) at each school.
In his state of the state, Governor Bill Lee put forth Revisions to the Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Act. Coming up this week: SB 0274 by Senator Johnson and HB 0322 by Representative Lamberth. Among many items, it will require active shooter training for armed security guards or security officers and providing security or patrol services in a public school. Will the emphasis now include more SROs?
One of the highest priorities we can have in American society is the safety and protection of children - and the men and women who teach them. The last line of defense that we can have for our kids is an armed person willing and ready to defend them if the unspeakable should happen. Public school safety must be a priority at every level of government.
JC Bowman is the executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee