How many must perish before we act to protect children?
Every day, Colorado parents hug their children — their most precious life’s treasure — and send those kids to school, trusting us, in loco parentis, or “in the place of a parent,” to keep them alive. On Feb. 11, the House Education Committee in the Colorado Legislature killed a bill that would have mandated safety drills in kindergarten-through 12th-grade public schools statewide. The bill was killed on a party-line vote.
Less than two weeks later, tragedy struck at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton. A gunman shot and injured two children.
Deer Creek is part of a school district that currently practices safety drills. People at the school knew what to do. They locked down the school. They saved lives. Selfless heroes intervened, tackled and restrained the gunman.
How fortunate, thanks to drills, that students and staff were prepared.
But what if this shooting had happened at a school that did not have drills? What if students and faculty had not practiced what to do in an emergency? Doesn’t each child in Colorado deserve to be safe while at school?
The House Education Committee took that opportunity away from the kids whose schools don’t practice the life-saving drills that Deer Creek Middle School does.
How can the state that had the Columbine homicides not have life-saving protocols for all of our children?
This makes so much sense. So why would the House Education Committee kill this commonsense bill?
In testimony from CASB (the Colorado Association of School Boards), we heard, “School boards want kids to be safe, but to do a law without having done any research does not seem to be the best way to make that kind of policy.”
Another CASB representative said, “I am concerned that we are passing a bill because someone might not be doing this. We have no research that there are school districts that are not doing it.”
But testimony by an official from the Colorado Department of Public Safety, which would have been charged with implementing these drills, said, when asked if all schools were currently conducting these drills, “Some districts have pushed out their timing. The furthest out is three years. The statute
currently asks that they do drills to the extent practical. There is a little wiggle room.”
Additional testimony from the Fire Marshal’s Association and the Colorado State Fire Chief’s Association reflected on the need for drills. “We can have a plan in place, but unless we practice plans, we are not going to be effective at them,” one official said.
How long do we study and research our children’s safety until violent death motivates us?
How many children and teachers must be murdered to cause these bureaucrats to act?
We hear, “We already do this in schools.” That is a lie that education bureaucrats hide behind to protect themselves from parents with hard questions.
We will bring this legislation back next year, and the year after, and the year after, until it becomes law, because it is the right thing to do for our kids and their teachers. Innocent lives deserve no less effort, and we will not go quietly into the night.
Let’s put the risk in perspective.
Let’s pray it will never happen.
Let’s know it could happen.
Let’s work with all our will to prevent it from happening.
Steve King, a Grand Junction Republican, is the representative for Colorado House District 54. He was the primary sponsor of the legislation that would have mandated saftey drills in public schools.