Berkeley County School District safety coordinator

Tim Knight, Berkeley County School District's safety and security coordinator, spoke to teachers during a safety seminar one of many staff development sessions at Cane Bay schools on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. Sheriff Duane Lewis (in suit, background) attended. Wade Spees/Staff

School officials will tell you the first thing on parents’ minds these days is safety. With good reason.

Trouble is, no one can agree on the best way to stop deranged lunatics with military-grade assault weapons from slaughtering kids at will.

Some parents want metal detectors in every school. Others demand a cop be stationed on every campus. A few want to arm teachers.

Many ask for bulletproof doors in every classroom.

Sometimes their requests are not feasible or are contradictory. They want their children to be safe but don’t want them to feel like they go to school in a fortress. Or a prison. It’s all understandable — and impossible.

As Paul Bowers reported, Lowcountry school districts are spending millions on security in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., massacre. They are hiring security guards, buying tourniquet kits and training school personnel in self-defense techniques. They’re supposed to be teaching trigonometry. Instead, they’re learning triage. This is a problem on many levels, but the critics only say it’s simply too expensive to do all this.

Sorry, but anyone who argues the Second Amendment precludes modest laws on background checks and bump stock bans doesn’t get to complain. Consider it the price of freedom.

Unfortunately, none of this stuff actually guarantees safety.

This is what the world has come to: The Washington Post reports that places like Walmart and Home Depot are now selling bulletproof backpacks.

When kids are wearing Kevlar-plated Dora the Explorer book bags, that’s a sign society has lost its ever-loving mind.

School security has become a $2.7 billion industry in recent years, and that doesn’t even count the cost of personnel. Companies are selling bulletproof whiteboards, trauma kits and surveillance cameras. A local company loaned the Charleston County School District three of its bulletproof doors as a test.

Installing one in every classroom in Charleston County would cost about $100 per resident — or $800 per student. And it wouldn’t stop them from getting shot through a window.

Fact is, there are shootings at schools with metal detectors, security cameras and just about every other safety measure out there. That doesn’t mean they don’t help, but perhaps folks should listen to the people who actually work in schools. All this madness inspired Wando High English teacher Patrick Martin to start the Safe Schools Project, which has as its motto “Ask a teacher.”

Teachers will tell what they don’t want: to turn schools into prisons or militarize faculties. Schools don’t pay enough to keep teachers on staff, much less ask them to take combat medical training or self-defense courses.

And no, they don’t want to carry guns. Which is a laughable proposal since most of them have to spend their own money to stock their classrooms with crayons and copier paper. Who’s going to pay for all those Glocks?

Charleston County School Board member Priscilla Jeffery used to teach at a large school in Denver.

And they know a little something about school shootings in Colorado.

Jeffery says the school had its own security team, one person per floor. But they weren’t in uniform and they doubled as counselors. They got to know their students, talked to them and learned which ones had problems.

That’s not so different from the Safe Schools Project’s idea. It promotes hiring guidance counselors who can help kids work out their issues. This is key because, in many cases, school shooters are troubled students. And it’s much better to stop shootings before they occur.

That’s also a good idea because, as school board member Cindy Bohn Coats says, getting resource officers on every campus is as much a staffing issue as a cost problem. They can’t hire enough people and train them fast enough. And, as The Post reported, 40 percent of the schools that suffered mass shootings had security on site, and it did no good.

Madmen are forcing schools to chase the impossible, and it’s distracting from the actual job of schools: education. Perhaps a better idea is to help kids work out issues before they get disgruntled — and get a gun. It may even be cheaper than armor and help even more students.

That’s about the best solution there is, at least until politicians give school safety priority over NRA report cards.

Reach Brian Hicks at

Reach Brian Hicks at

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