Schott Foundation President on How to Keep our Schools Safe
A few months before the tragic shooting of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the young gunman attended his mother’s funeral and was asked if he was upset. His response provides insight into the road that disconnected him from his humanity: “I’m just upset that no one cared to show up.” We need no clearer evidence that hurt people are more likely to hurt people.
For educators, that carries an important message: You can’t reach a child who doesn’t think you care. Self-actualization through education is, on psychologist Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy, a higher-order need. It is virtually impossible to improve learning outcomes without supports that address students’ more basic needs, including their sense of being loved and belonging.
Our public schools and educators, who teach more than 90 percent of America’s children, are charged with teaching students who are stable as well as those in pain. Fortunately, most students don’t exhibit their pain in the way the gunman did, but educators everywhere know there are too few resources and supports to address their students’ needs.
Rather than provide the resources needed to close this gap, President Donald Trump and others have been calling for “hardening” our schools. But more guns, police officers and metal detectors in learning spaces is the antithesis of what we need to create a healthier living and learning climate...