UPDATED: This story has been edited to remove an incorrect statement about the St. Paul Public School district. The article originally stated that the district had increased police presence, but, according to St. Paul Public Schools Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator Toya Stewart Downey, no such change has been made.
The shooting last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 students and six teachers were killed, has motivated Minnesota school officials to better ensure the safety of their students. New security measures have been implemented in school districts across the state.
The Minneapolis district has restricted access to school buildings to only those who have ID cards. Minneapolis has also added security cameras and increased the number of policeman and security guards in school buildings.
Bloomington, Chaska and Stillwater have also all asked for increased funding to ramp up security in their public schools.
Though admirable in their intent, these measures implore us to ask: how much security is too much? School officials do not want to increase security to the degree that their buildings intimidate the students.
In a recent Star Tribune article regarding increased school security in Minnesota, school officials spoke out against too much security in the school building.
“There’s a fine line between building a fortress and maintaining a safe and caring learning environment,” said Susan Brott, an employee of Edina public schools.
It is understandable that school officials want to find that fine line when increasing school security. However, officials should be careful not to sacrifice security in the name of making schools more inviting. American public schools have experienced enough violence already.
The fact that the Sandy Hook tragedy was preceded by incidents like Columbine and the Virginia Tech shooting only reinforces the fact that school districts need to take new measures to ensure their students’ security. Since the attack in Newtown, there have been 14 mass shootings across America, including several that occurred in public schools. For Minnesota school officials, making sure that school security is up-to-date is the responsible thing to do.
Minnesota is not the only state wrestling with this issue. All across the country, public schools are trying to ensure the safety of their students. Many states have made similar changes, but other states have taken a different and arguably more dangerous approach. In response to the Sandy Hook shooting, school districts in Texas and Arkansas have passed legislation that allows teachers to carry concealed handguns in the classroom. This is not a new approach to school security. In Utah, teachers already have the right to carry concealed weapons in the classroom. These teachers will provide extra security for their students in case of an attack.
In many ways, the desire for security is understandable. Arming teachers seems to make sense in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. The hope is that having teachers with guns would stop any school intruder.
However, I think that fewer guns are the answer to this issue, not more. Guns in the classroom increase the potential for violence. Teachers are no different from anyone else. They are capable of anger, rage and poor decision-making. Under the proposed laws, they would be armed. Even if the teacher with the weapon is responsible and well-trained, there is always the possibility that kids could get their hands on the gun. The risks of having guns in the classroom is too great.
I believe that Minnesota public schools are doing the right thing. Increased school security is necessary to prevent another tragic school shooting. Instead of arming their teachers, Minnesota public schools are adding security guards and making entry to the building difficult for those without proper identification. In my opinion, Minnesota school officials have chosen the correct course of action in order to keep students safe.
Nicholas Bowlin ’16 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Princeton, N.J. He majors in history and political science.