|School Security--Ginsburg Testimony 4-23-18|
Good afternoon Chairwoman Ruiz, Chairwoman Lampitt and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to speak on school security. There is no topic more important. I speak to you today as Executive Director of the Garden State Coalition, but also as an 18-year Board of Education member. For 16 years I have been president of that board. I have listened to emotional testimony from parents following 9/11, Sandy Hook, Parkland and all the school shootings in between. After Sandy Hook, the parent of a first grader came to our board meeting and asked us directly, “Can you guarantee that my child will be safe in school?” I knew then and I know now that no matter what we do and what policies we put in place, not one of us here today can make that guarantee.
In the years since Columbine and especially since Sandy Hook, every district that I know of has worked on security upgrades. We never forget our obligation to create educational spaces that are welcoming and nurturing to our students and community, while being as secure as possible. We are also very aware of the situations that we cannot control, including recess, outdoor sporting events, field trips and school arrival/dismissal times.
So what can we do? The following are a few suggestions:
Many times, when school shootings happen, I hear, “the schools did nothing,” or “the schools didn’t do enough” to prevent tragedy. As a board member and an education advocate, I know that there is always more that we can do, but no one can do it all. Parenting is an act of faith. Sending children to school is an act of faith. Being an educator is an act of faith. Being a legislator or a local school board member and meeting in a public place, sometimes with a hostile crowd present, is an act of faith. In our efforts to find security solutions, let’s use compassion and not give in to the temptation to turn on each other. If we do, the destructive forces present—inside and outside our public institutions—will have won.