Sunday, December 23, 2012

NRA Response To Newtown Tragedy Is Absurd

This gun only shoots ink, skin deep.
This past spring, I had a first had experience with the consequences of budget cuts in our schools. The Duluth school board was once again wrestling with their financial straits and was striving to determine what to cut. Members of a loose affiliation of artists made appeals to the school board not to cut music and arts from the schools, one of the items on the table. The debate was real because state and federal funds are being diverted to other programs and in other directions. And Duluth is not the only community dealing with this problem of limited funds.

Within seconds doing a Google search you can find over a million articles about budget cuts in our nation’s schools. Schools have historically been battleground for our children’s futures. School boards agonize over how thin to spread the gravy. Here’s an excerpt from just one such report addressing this matter titled
Starving America’s Public Schools: How Budget Cuts and Policy Mandates Are Hurting Our Nation’s Students.

New austerity budgets passed by state legislatures are starting to have a huge influence on direct services to children, youth, and families. There is widespread evidence that the education funding cuts are leading to:

• Massive cuts to early childhood education programs (pre-K and kindergarten);
• Huge class sizes in many subjects, reaching levels that are upsetting parents and potentially damaging students’ education;
• An end to art, music, physical education, and other subjects considered to be part of a well-rounded education;
• Cuts in specialized programs and/or hefty fees for them. Some of these programs serve students with developmental issues or those who need more individualized attention. They also include extra-curricular activities such as band and sports as well as academic offerings in science, foreign language, technology, and Advanced Placement subjects.

Against this backdrop my jaw dropped when I heard the NRA recommendation to place a trained, armed officer in every school. This NRA response to place an armed officer in every school in America shows a complete disconnect with what has been happening in our schools. Did the NRA leadership really spend a week of deliberation to come up with this response.

I agree with Michael Mayo, Sun Sentinel Columnist, who wrote

Dear NRA,
Really? This is how you're going to respond? With the same tired cliches? By doubling down on guns (a weapon in every schoolhouse!), ramping up the fear, and not even broaching the possibility of some common-sense restrictions on rapid-fire guns and ammunition to keep the carnage in check?

The full article carries this headline: NRA shoots self with brazen response to Sandy Hook.

To get an idea of how many armed guards would be needed in Duluth alone, I did a count of how many schools we have here... 9 public elementary schools, 2 public middle schools, 2 public high schools, 4 charter schools, 6 alternative public schools, 4 Catholic schools, 4 private non-Catholic schools, and the independent Marshall school for a total of 32 schools. Hiring 32 more personnel will not solve the problem of overcrowded classrooms here. I know of communities that have no police at all because they can't afford them. Now they'll be required to have them in their schools?

The response to the tragedy that I did like this week is pictured below. Former school board member Harry Welty has a reputation locally of making an annual snow sculpture on his front yard at 21st Avenue East and 4th Street. They are usually quite creative and often make the local papers. This year Welty's sculpture was designed to honor the Sandy Hook shooting victims. 

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