As an 18-year veteran of the school board, the last few months have been the most challenging I’ve ever witnessed. I experienced both student walkouts for school safety and teacher walkouts for dismal state support for its public schools. I grew up in an era of protest–the Kent State shootings and Viet Nam War sit-ins. I watched on TV the riots in Watts. I’m not Pollyanna; I knew the world wasn’t perfect. I was cognizant of war, crime, and cruelty against others.
I watched in horror the TV coverage of the Twin Towers and the shooting of Gabby Giffords in a Tucson parking lot. I wept over the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Afterward, our school district remodeled all of our forty-four schools. Now, when I drive by each of them, the buildings are fortresses. (If Phoenix water wasn’t so pricey, moats would have been added). Our front office entries are bullet-proof glass, and like the movie theater, I speak into a microphone and slide my ID through the little drawer for the secretary to peruse before I’m admitted. I’ve undergone background checks and carry a fingerprint card.
Yet, in spite of all these school safety measures, school shootings continue. Believe me, I’ve bent my head in prayer since Sandy Hook–my only weapon. Thoughts and prayers are of NO use to dead children and school staff members; they’ve already met Jesus.
I am paranoid of what’s to become of us. We live in an America rife with bullying, hate, anger, and powerful lobbies which control our legislators. Each week we lose more of our most precious asset–our youth to senseless violence. Our children are counting on us to resolve this madness.