Ten years ago today, two gunmen killed 13, 12 students and one teacher, (and themselves) at Columbine High School in Colorado. The tragedy was one of those moments that truly caught a community, a state, and a nation off guard. We never expect such actions to happen in our public schools, particularly in the suburbs of Denver, and when they do it results in a range of thoughts, rhetoric, and actions.
Since the shootings (and subsequent tragedies on campuses like Virginia Tech) we talk about a lot, including the impact of bullying, the need for improved guidance departments, and even the arming of classroom teachers. But today is not a day to debate such issues. Today is really just a day to remember those 13 students, the 24 others who were injured in the mindless attacks, and the families of Columbine who are still affected, even a decade later.
USA Today, and reporters Greg Toppo and Marilyn Elias, offered a good story last week on the lessons learned from Columbine. This AM, USA Today highlights, on its editorial pages, what schools have done to avoid such inexplainable actions in the future. The piece is worth a close read from any policymaker, superintendent, school administrator, teacher, or community leader who is dealing today’s students in today’s complex society. The four primary observations coming out of Columbine, according to our national newspaper of record. the need for:
* Better partnerships between law enforcement and schools
* Encouraging students to report suspicions
* Watching for red flags
* Better reaction plans
Today, and this topic, is not a time for clever Eduflack quips and rhetorical cadences designed to promote (or tear down) a policy agenda. For educators, today should be a day of remembrance, and a day to ensure that tragedies like Columbine never happen again. We can’t expect our kids to develop, academically and socially, if they don’t feel safe once they step through those schoolhouse doors. There’s no simpler way to state such a serious issue.