A documentary has just been released on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series. It is a detailed and often disturbing look at the measures schools are taking to ensure that students and staff feel safe. AR-15s for defense against an intruder, bulletproof desks and tactical electronic distraction devices, Kevlar-lined hoodies…what is the cost of feeling safe?
“The wolf is in the henhouse.” #wordless
Learn more at PBS.org or watch the video embedded below.
Each year, school leaders spend billions of dollars on security to bulletproof campuses. For the entrepreneurs who manufacture bulletproof backpacks and whiteboards, the race to stop the next school shooter has become big business. Whether that spending has helped, however, remains unclear.
Todd—I was surprised to learn (though perhaps I shouldn’t have been) how much mass shooting-related security mandates drive school budgeting. I didn’t collect hard numbers, but I spoke with several architects, superintendents, and school board members while researching.
One architect told me that every school expansion project he’d worked on in the last decade has been paid for with security money. Want to build a new athletics facility? According to him, the only way to do that is to bundle it with security enhancements, because that’s where the money is.
Bulletproof, a sly, sharp-eyed documentary on US school safety in the era of mass shootings, traces a horrific and absurd status quo. A lockdown drill at an everywhere high school, students crouched under desks, in corners. A tracking badge system for a district in Texas City, Texas, which shows administrators every person’s exact location on campus; a first-grade teacher in Colorado learning to shoot a gun so she can protect her “kiddos”; a department head displaying his district’s 22 AR-15s, since “being in the tactical field myself I understand the importance of superior firepower.” Cut to high-schoolboys playing basketball, a homecoming game, cheerleading practice, banter on the bleachers.