Meanwhile, Back at the Salt Mines…
You didn’t read about it in the news, but on Friday, there were two security lockdowns at my South LA Middle School. They were for shots fired…both of them. Since it was South LA, it seems like it wasn’t newsworthy…I say that because I know more than one teacher that tipped the LA Times to it. I am not going to get off on a rant about how if the students were of a different racial demographic, it would have made news. I am also not going to criticize the Times…that can be done at my leisure.
I am going to put this in sharp focus. I was not in school for this. I had taken the second day of Rosh Hashanah off, as was appropriate. With a huge percentage of new staff and several substitute teachers on campus, reports came back to me that the lockdown went…poorly. Last week, we were supposed to have a drill about this, so that teachers could actually know the codes and procedures…since so many are new to teaching and the district. Most have never had a real security lockdown, for actual shots fired.
Students somehow left their rooms during this lockdown. In an incident with actual shots fired, classroom management was such that students were walking campus. The multiple levels of irresponsibility here are beyond belief. If I had been on campus, a significant amount of that, in our building, would have been curtailed…since I usually offload my students to the history teacher, and secure the building personally. Constant walking, all doors shut, all doors locked. No exceptions, no excuses.
Is that safe for me? Not so much. I am inside the building, which should be locked to anyone without a key…and those are limited to administration and custodians. So…less safe for me than others, but safer than outside. It’s a necessary evil, to keep kids inside class, where they are at maxim um safety. The jobs is simple…parents want their kids home safe, and smarter than when they sent them to us. That means that there are times when I may need to be in harm’s way.
However…I wasn’t there.
It’s an odd feeling. On some level I’m relieved. I don’t LIKE being in danger, I just deal with it okay, since kids count on me and look up to me. The fact that campus was so active, such a dangerous place…I’m glad I didn’t have to be there.
At the same time…I’m frustrated that I wasn’t. Things are safer when they are managed correctly, when strictly monitored. I am nothing if not strict, and hold adults accountable to more than kids. Things would have gone better, smarter. There would have been fewer issues, other than the obvious.
I want to point out…we were supposed to have drill about this…but we DIDN’T. Admin fumbled the ball the prior week, and no drill happened. Students and teachers were completely flat footed and unprepared, in part because of negligence of safety procedure. The same kind of procedure that they tell me to my face they are following to a “T.” The level of hypocrisy is incredible…but thankfully, students safety falls firmly outside my Deal, which says I will shut up and play nice. I will be outspoken about this gross negligence.
I also expect to be held accountable for having not been there, like our hero in the art above. I firmly expect a “Where were you, was the day necessary?” line of questioning from the highest levels. I will be outspoken about that as well, since I put “Second Day of Rosh Hashanah” on the sub coverage request. A wise person wouldn’t engage me on that point, but I haven’t seen a lot of wisdom at school lately.
Next Issue: We That Remain.