Talk about an exercise in futility:
Consider Recommendation 2, which urges a civics curriculum in each grade that focuses on citizenship, courtesy, and deference to school administrators. Of course, nothing is inherently objectionable about civic responsibility. But emphasizing it in a report ostensibly about school safety, in a year in which so many students died from gun violence, is a slap in the face to the teachers, students, and parents across the state who have demanded and deserve serious-minded solutions.
Most troubling of all is Recommendation 3, which urges legislation requiring that students receive first-aid instruction “on the immediate response to bleeding, how to recognize life threatening bleeding, and appropriate ways to stop the bleeding.” Tying tourniquets and applying quick clot bandages: no longer, apparently, the exclusive province of paramedics and other first responders, but tasks kindergartners must master.
What about triage? At least two (2) children in each class should be well-versed in what constitutes a fatal injury, so they can use a red Sharpie and put an "X" on the foreheads of any classmates that can't be saved. Yes, I'm being facetious, but that still shows a higher level of respect than this "report" deserves:
If you search the report for any reference to the actual cause of the bleeding, you will find yourself woefully disappointed. Committee members decided to avoid discussion of even modest firearm regulations, such as universal background checks or “red flag” laws that allow police seizure of firearms upon a judicial finding that a particular gun owner is dangerous. Instead, the House Select Committee has shouldered youngsters with the job of keeping themselves — and their peers — alive.
What should the General Assembly do to keep students safe? Along with enacting gun-control laws, the legislature should commit to supporting student well-being both in and out of school. Experts have demonstrated the connection between safety and a positive school climate. In such a climate, students view teachers as fair and even-handed in the administration of discipline; they feel welcomed by administrators and included in the life of the school. Creating positive school climate across the state demands funding. Classes must be small enough that students cannot get lost. Teachers must not be so overwhelmed by high class size and inadequate levels of support from teaching assistants that they respond overly harshly to normative misbehavior, or miss signs of distress or conflict between students. And troubled students must know and feel comfortable with a fully-funded mental-health staff of guidance counselors and social workers.
We also need to make one thing clear, especially to parents that question or ignore efforts by teachers to advise said parents about behavior problems: Teachers are in a much better position to assess the psychological stability of students than their parents are. I know, it sounds outrageous, but it's true. Teachers witness student interactions constantly, they see how students react to high-pressure situations, in an environment where that student doesn't have a refuge (bedroom) to escape to when they feel the need. In many ways school is a crucible, both transformative and destructive, and teachers are usually the only mature witnesses to that action.
And every time a parent dismisses their concerns, or makes accommodating noises with no intention of following through, they are putting their child (and maybe others) at risk.