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I have not known what to say about the terrible events of December 14, when 20 young children and their teachers were murdered in their school.

In the ensuing days, I have been keenly aware of the young lives that are entrusted to my care each day.  There are one hundred and ten children that travel through my classroom every day, and another 300 plus who are younger students in our building.  I cannot help but wonder, as I look at all those young faces, what I would do; what I could do in the event we ever came under attack by a gunman in our building.  It is a bit of background noise in the busy rush of my days.  I am not focused on it; not obsessing over it -- but it is there.  Always.

On the 15th of this month, our local police department will come to conduct the first of several planned training programs with our faculty and staff.  Like law enforcement agencies around the country, ours has adopted an approach to the potential for an active shooter in a school building that is known by the acronym A.L.I.C.E. (Alert / Lockdown / Inform / Counter / Evacuate).  I don't know much about it yet.  I do know that it is controversial.  I do know that it teaches that, in an incident with an armed intruder, the thinking is that it may be better to have students throw textbooks and chairs than huddle in locked closets.

I am uneasy with the whole idea.  I don't know what to think.  But then, I think about someone bursting into my safe, welcoming, comfortable classroom with a gun and threatening my kids -- and yeah, I'd take the bastard on with whatever I had at my disposal.



  1. I teach the same age children as you do. We are the youngest in our school of nearly 900. Our school was built in the 50's and 'security' was never even thought about. I don't know what I think either. There has been talk of arming the principals and maybe some teachers. Honestly I've known teachers that, in my opinion, should NOT be trusted with a weapon. I keep my door locked now, I scan more as we're leaving our building, I find myself looking for the safest place in my room, behind filing cabinets, tables... We can be safer, I know, but sadly we can't fully protect our kids from evil and crazy.


    1. I understand, PK. Our building is about 90 years old and full of small children. No matter how we lock the doors, if you stand outside and bang on a door, it is likely some little one will hit the crash bar and let you in. I know my room is not secure from someone intent on doing harm. From the 3rd floor, I can't safely toss kids out the windows, and the doors are old and fragile. The options are not great. And, still, on any given day, the place is full of life and promise and hope. I do believe that our good can somehow overcome at least some of the bad.


  2. weirdgirl6:55 AM

    I don't really wish to start a heated debate, but was wondering about your feelings on gun control as a means to lessen the frequency of such horrific events. Guns scare the bejeeesus out of me.
    I will be interested to hear more about the ALICE recommendations and your take on them, Swan.

    Kind regards

  3. weirdgirl,
    I am an advocate of seriously expanded gun control laws. I understand that our country is awash in guns, and I know there is no way we will get them all off our streets. I also know that the bad and crazy ones will find a way to get hold of weapons if that is what they want. However, in the US, too many people die from guns every single day. The Newtown massacre was horrific, but the fact is that adults and children are gunned down in our cities and towns every single day. I do not believe there is a single solution. I think we have to limit the sales of guns. I think we have to radically change the way ammunition for weapons is sold. I think we need to address a whole host of mental health issues. I think we need to figure out what it is about our culture that causes our young men (and it is mostly young men) to resort to killing as a solution to problems. We cannot go back to the beginning and eliminate all the guns, and the second amendment debate is a strongly held value among many Americans. There is no easy fix. But I believe we have to start.


  4. I agree wholeheartedly. None of it can be wiped clean or undone, even with the strictest of laws, but I hope a start can be made with the methods you outline. Thank you for answering my question :)

  5. Anonymous8:27 PM

    We're all with you, Swan. Very hard to walk past a door or her something drop and not have your mind race in options. We have had drills. I have a MILD class. They were terrified of the dark, let alone silence. How did those teachers keep children quiet? Our phone sits in front of the door and the cell phones don't work in all the concrete. The number of things needed are almost impossible to every fully secure. Lord bless us every one. Let us have the courage to find the right changes and the where with all to make them! Palamino


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