This week’s threat against public schools in Los Angeles is terrifying.
And it once again focuses attention on school safety in New York City, where more than 1 million kids attend school at 1,700 schools across the city.
We’re not telling parents anything they don’t already know when we say that school safety in New York is patchy, at best. Some schools have guards, even metal detectors, others have none. The vulnerabilities seem particularly acute in elementary schools, where educators and parents are wary of rattling young kids.
Parents are scared. Every time a new attack hits the news, principals hear from nervous parents who want to know why more isn’t being done. The fear dies down, somewhat, when the headlines fade. (Expect a new crest of phone calls this week, on the L.A. news and a bomb threat in New York that police deemed noncredible.)
It’s time for the city Department of Education, the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio to make an aggressive move on school safety. The Paris and San Bernardino attacks prove that we have entered a new phase when it comes to “soft-target” attacks in this country. A comprehensive plan for security guards, tough school-access rules, even reinforced entry doors is urgently needed. Maintaining an environment conducive to learning and creativity is an important goal of our school system; the security of our kids trumps all.
After 9/11, extensive changes in air security quickly made it safer to fly in the U.S. Unfortunately, it took the most devastating terrorist attack in American history to make that happen.
A similarly comprehensive plan is needed for our schools, in new York and throughout the country, and it needs to happen now.