Making society better will make schools safer

To the editor:

The May 17th copy of The Journal had an article titled: District 88 asks outside group for safety ideas. Magnets, mirrors, and evacuation maps posted on school doors were some suggestions for improving school safety. While we are at it, perhaps communities and our school leaders need to look into their own mirrors to seek answers to the question of why students and ex-students are attracted back to school buildings to kill and maim, and then create a map that may guide us to peace and security.

We believe this mirror is one that reflects school systems that encourage and finance competitive team sports at the cost of arts, music, humanities, and industrial art . Also, our current schools are too quantitative and competitive in nature. What about the student that is losing? When a student doesn’t fit in we tend to label them as “special education students”. We often ignore the many forms of bullying occurring within our schools. Focusing on the uniqueness of human beings and the beauty and creativeness that lies within each one of them may prevent them from becoming isolated, lonely, and violent. Student sports participation is a wonderful tool to build character but if financing these activities is coming at the expense of a more broad-based curriculum, then a readjustment needs to be made.

Our teachers can only do so much. Many are using their own money to buy school supplies. They are being intimidated by disruptive students and parents. In response, schools need to direct financial resources towards more counselors, mental health professionals, and mentoring in subject areas other than sports. We need to identify and help the “lost child.” Parent-teacher conferences are vital.

Our local businesses are struggling to find employees to maintain and build their businesses. Does our new school building address these issues? Instead, our curriculum is focused on “getting ready for college” and has lost sight of the needs of students who don’t have the finances nor mind to go down that road. The brick and mortar was built in a fashion to become a sports destination complex, where tons of money is spent on playing a game, where the focus is on “making the A-team” and popularity is a virtue. How creative and productive is this?

So, should we invest in technology to keep our good children safely locked up and the ” bad” children locked out? What if the” bad” child is locked inside with a non-metal weapon? Most folks agree that guns don’t kill people; people do. I believe there is a need to improve the social environment in our schools. Maybe then, the lost child prone to violence will find a program, class, or teacher that will allow them to express themselves in a creative manner, develop their unique individual abilities and passions, and provide a meaningful place of employment upon graduation.

Mark Berle