Jane Fairchild: Millions of dollars won’t keep kids safe

For the Monitor
Monday, April 16, 2018

Today we learn (Sunday Monitor Local & State, April 8) that the new “school infrastructure fund,” nearly $19 million of taxpayer money from general fund surpluses, has been maxed out, and an additional $8 million in similar projects has been waitlisted. Such a windfall could have been a gift to schools around the state for construction, expansion and improvement projects. Perhaps to build new state-of-the-art music rooms or libraries, or additions to existing schools that still use modular classrooms utilized back when times were tougher to hold overflow classes, or to install better athletic facilities for the many kids who participate in sports.

But rather than spend the dollars on the children’s actual educational needs, by far the lion’s share will be spent on “security enhancements and upgrades.” We learn that school districts will spend the money on fancy door access code upgrades; safety film to reinforce windows; high-tech door locks, buzzers and camera systems; “compatibility” devices to communicate with first responders; and a myriad of otherworldly gadgets in false hopes of keeping students and teachers safe.

Safe from what? Of course, we know the answer: safe from shooters with assault rifles and lightning-speed bullets that shred anything they touch, including human bodies. Deranged killers, some strangers, some neighbors. Aggrieved students or staff. Unstable individuals who never should never have had a gun but somehow borrowed or stole one or found a loophole to buy one. Guns.

Yes, guns. That is where these and countless other millions of dollars are going, on misguided, feel-good beliefs that such extreme measures will keep our precious children safe. But such “solutions” are folly. As long as guns are in every pocket on every street corner in America; in bedrooms and cars and garages and cellars; on our streets and in workplaces; in our stores and churches and everywhere we think we are Americans living out our dreams, we are not really safe. We are not secure. Neither our children, nor any one of us, will be safe until we control most – and eliminate many – of these weapons from which we try to hide as we continue to bury our heads in the sand.

(Jane Fairchild lives in Concord.)