Sara Tipton: Arm Teachers

Slide to Safety is a “Patented Rapid Evacuation Slide” for schools invaded by an active shooter. It provides an emergency escape route for children trapped by a shooter, like the slides used on aircraft in the event of a crash or other emergency. The North Carolina company’s marketing goes straight for the jugular, citing the Sandy Hook slaughter and Columbine killings to push their product. I was a high school sophomore when the Columbine massacre happened . . .

I was sitting in an American History class at my school in Loveland, Colorado when we heard about the Columbine killings.  I remember the teachers shutting the doors to the classroom as we watched live media coverage of the shooting on TV. The shock. The horror. The glances at the door. The relief when we got back to our families.

I don’t remember anyone talking about how we would have escaped from our classroom if Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had targeted out school. How could we? We were in the middle of the school. The room had no windows. Other than the door, the only exit would have been through the large fan in the ceiling. The best thing my class could have done was what was done: close and lock the door.

That said, I can see how a Slide to Safety would be an excellent escape system for second or third story classrooms. If nothing else, they might be a safer alternative escape route for fires (which could result from a bombing or arson). I don’t know. But I do know that the Slide to Safety represents a significant shift in active shooter response.

The Slide represents the exact opposite of the “shelter in place” strategy being drilled into millions of American school children. It says LEAVE! RUN! SCATTER! As a Mom with school age children and a woman armed against violent aggression, I approve of that message. I don’t want my children – or anyone else’s – gathered for easy slaughter. I would want them to have a chance of escape – rather than waiting for the armed Calvary to take out the bad guy or bad guys. Which could be days later.

s2sFi

Again, escape doesn’t figure in schools’ active shooter or terrorist attack plans. It’s all about “lock down.” The idea of hundreds of children running off in different directions, many without adult supervision, is a complete anathema to administrators, people who rely on rules, order and procedure to do their jobs. That kind of chaos is not their friend – even in the face of the worst chaos imaginable. Even though it could save hundreds of lives.

We’ve come a long way since I sat in class trying to take in the Columbine killings. The old idea of the police establishing a perimeter defense while waiting for the SWAT team to show-up is gone. But in some ways, we’re exactly where we were. Very few schools have taken a comprehensive approach to defending our children, including better external security, improved communications and school-specific response procedures. [ED: the NRA’s School Shield Program offered schools “best practice” recommendations. It was ignored.]

And then there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room: armed teachers and administrators. No matter what kind of response plan is in place for an active shooter or terrorist – whether it’s slides, dead bolts, or cans of food to throw at the bad guy – the fastest and most effective way to protect the children from killers is to stop the attack. With a gun. The sooner the better. Armed teachers and administrators are the answer. And there’s no getting away from that fact.

comments

  1. avatar Missouri Mule says:

    The problem has been solved but the solution has not been accepted. Modest security measures around the building. An armed School Resource officer, AND about 5% armed teachers and staff who carry concealed. Dr. Eric Deitz of Purdue University has done the research and run the simulations. The enemy picks the time and place of attack but, 26 need not die. Not a perfect solution but a real solution.

    1. avatar Rick3 says:

      ” Dr. Eric Deitz of Purdue University”

      I find his webpage at the University, but do you have any more details on the research you mentioned?

      1. avatar Missouri Mule says:

        Here is the link to the abstract. “Applied Engineering Models Suggesting Strategies to Reduce
        Causalities During a School Active Shooter Event ” The report is hard to get a hold of.
        http://cd14.ijme.us/papers/143__Eric%20Dietz,%20Adam%20Kirby,%20Charles%20Anklam,%20Filipo%20Sharevski.pdf

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    a Slide to Safety would be an excellent escape system for second or third story classrooms.

    You know, in case of a fire, this apparatus might be a life-saver for those on the second or third floor. In case of a shooter, it might help — if the school isn’t one of those rambling, one-story jobs. The youths won’t be sliding to safety from the first floor windows. And if the building is taller, say four to six stories, this bit of kit won’t cut it then, either.

    Running and hiding is a good strategy until it isn’t. Tossing canned goods at a BG just ain’t gonna cut it. Returning fire is the only way to stop a threat. But it’s good to have options.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      There is a 2 story, 2 room schoolhouse in Northern MI that has a giant stainless steel tube slide attached to the 2nd floor for a fire escape. My grandfather said his 5 room elementary school in the 40s had the same on the 2nd floor and he was put in detention for climbing up it and sliding down.

    2. avatar VTAero says:

      During the Virginia Tech Shooting, a number of students escaped by jumping out of second story windows. A friend of mine was among them. He broke his leg in a couple of places, but I was able to visit him in the hospital on Wednesday instead of attend a funeral. Most (all?) of his classmates that did not jump out the window died. The ones that were able to escape only had time to do it because of the heroics of their professor who held the door closed with his body while the shooter shot through the door trying to enter. Hell of a way for a holocaust survivor to die…

  3. avatar Gatha58 says:

    Easiest, least expensive and most practical system is to have some kind of armed response on the school grounds available to defend against and stop the shooter(s). Everything else is bandaids and political eye wash.

  4. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    OR-home school if you can…My son and brother do and did…

  5. avatar doesky2 says:

    Well of coarse it’s colored blue because it is only welcoming to our sexist male patriarchal society!

    Where is the rainbow colored slide that is welcoming to our LGBT_QWERTY students?

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Good grief!

    2. avatar Roscoe says:

      They don’t need a chute; they can ride their unicorns over the rainbow to safety.

  6. avatar doesky2 says:

    What a stupid product whose marketing plan is relying on school systems spending other peoples tax dollars.

    If a room or floor has time to use this slide its only because the crazy dude is spending his time shooting up some other room.

  7. avatar Gunr says:

    I’ll bet the price tag on this system is a lot higher than arming the teachers.

  8. avatar gsnyder says:

    There is no arguing the armed school employee idea, unless you vilify good people, which is exactly what goes on. We can’t arm teachers because they may turn into killers because they have a gun! Oh, but the teachers are wonderful people we emphatically trust with kids, and are typically background checked to hold the job. The hypocrisy of the armed teacher issue is as nutty as it gets. Of course our schools should be armed! The anti-gun argument is saying they do not wish to protect the kids in the best way possible. We’d rather take a chance they end up dead in an attack than provide background cleared, fingerprinted, scrutinized teachers, (Right bearing citizens) the RIGHT to Constitutional protective measures. It’s unbelievable at times isn’t it?

    1. avatar Missouri Mule says:

      As a teacher, (among other things – not my first career) the opposition I often hear is that teachers cannot carry and teach at the same time or that students will jump the teachers and take the firearm. I heard that objection from a 250 pound, 28 year old football coach. It seems that many teachers and administrators have brainwashed themselves into helplessness. Fortunately, if I can get the college age teacher candidates to the range, they learn that they can become proficient with fire arms and learn the principals and tactics of self defense.

      1. avatar jim says:

        I’m not 28 anymore but I am a big guy. It wouldn’t be one student coming for the teacher’s gun. They would get swarmed. Then what? Is the teacher going to start shooting? Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be the teacher that ends up on CNN for that shooting.

        1. avatar Missouri Mule says:

          Weapon retention is the most common problem cited to me by teachers concerned about carrying at school. Many people cite the myth of cops being shot with their own hand guns and killed. In fact that happens about once a year. I am not familiar with any SRO’s being disarmed at school. Just 3 weeks ago the Tampa, Florida police chief told realtors in effect that it was better to be robbed, raped and murdered than to risk lawful concealed carry. You must teach at a pretty rough school. Some risks are worth taking.

      2. avatar jim says:

        I’m in L.A. County. I think there is a big difference between a uniformed police officer and a teacher in the matter of how students view them as victim’s. We had a principal attacked in our districts “best” school. He is a former pro baseball player and a real big guy. Would the students do the same if it was a SRO? Probably not.

        1. avatar Missouri Mule says:

          A recent project I worked on uncovered data on armed vs unarmed school security guards. Un-armed security got less compliance and much more physical confrontations than armed security. At the same time SRO’s with less lethal capability got in more physical conflicts with mid level use of force.
          Bad students like to fight but as Col. Cooper said, “nobody wants to bleed.”

          Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, 11:159–176, 2011
          Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
          ISSN: 1533-2586 print / 1533-2594 online
          DOI: 10.1080/15332586.2011.587381
          On the Association Between SROs, Private
          Security Guards, Use-of-Force Capabilities,
          and Violent Crime in Schools

  9. avatar defensor fortismo says:

    And what is stopping a shooter from taking a leaf out of the columbine shooters book and laying out pipe bombs, say, directly on the slides dumping grounds?

  10. avatar bobmcd says:

    Do not arm the teachers.

    Allow the teachers to arm themselves.

  11. avatar ghost says:

    I always wondered, how do these anti-firearm people come to the conclusion that once firearms are confiscated, criminals won’t have any? Killings will suddenly stop? Crime will suddenly cease? What?

  12. avatar David says:

    Home school. No matter your current situation you can find a way. And it is much better for your children than the govt. indoctrination centers known as public schools. I may have to write an article about it for the contest.

    1. avatar Kevin j says:

      And you won’t sway anyone to your side unless they are already there. All the homeschooled kids I’ve come across are weirdos who arn’t equipped for the real world.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        So you’ve me one (1) home schooled?

        How many morons/potheads/Ritalin addicts/libtards/queers have you meet that have fully indoctrinated by the gov’t school industry?

    2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      The reason we have public education is because many (most?) parents simply aren’t qualified to teach their own children. The perpetual influx of immigrants, who can’t read their native language, much less English, would simply raise another generation of illiterate kids if it weren’t for public education.

      My parents could have home schooled me, but they (and I) are the exception. And although the home schooled kids I know are brighter and better educated (and better equipped for the real world) than their public schooled peers, it’s because they are blessed with bright, well-educated parents. Public schools will always be a necessity.

  13. avatar AncientAlien says:

    Could these schools be the target of some extraterrestrial plot? Could this be a part of a larger global agenda to disarm earth so they could not resist an intergalactic challenge? Is it possible this could be decoded through the Dropa Disks? Did the Mayan calendar predict these events? Or… Could these “mass shooters” be aliens themselves?

    1. avatar Robert W. says:

      Dammit!

      Who keeps leaving the whiskey and cigars out?!

  14. avatar Grindstone says:

    The problem is with ignorant hoplophobes who believe that guns are autonomous killing devices. The mere presence of one means that there will be a death, no matter what. Unfortunately, most humans are incapable of applying rationality to all aspects of the world. Emotional fear controls many peoples opinions and actions. Fighting through that is a near impossible task that is really only best handed in a personal one-on-one setting. Assuming the person is capable of opening their mind enough to accept new information that would shift their world view. This is applicable to many aspects, but in this case, it’s firearms. People just have an irrational fear of these devices, for one reason or another.

  15. avatar An English Person says:

    If i remember my school days correctly, which I rarely try to, there were cases of fire alarms being triggered to escape exams, and occasions where areas of wetness needed to be hidden when returning from lunch break having played with the fire extinguishers; I can imagine the inherent fun factor present in inflatable slides leading to a lot of ‘accidental’ deployments.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “If i remember my school days correctly, which I rarely try to, there were cases of fire alarms being triggered to escape exams,”

      You’re way behind on the times.

      Nowadays to duck an exam the preferred method is to phone in a bomb threat or active shooter to 911 using a one time use (a burner) cell phone.

      At the most it costs them 20 USD.

      1. avatar An English Person says:

        Can only imagine how much one of those slides costs plus maintenance per classroom!

  16. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Securing schools against spree killers (and even terrorist attacks to some extent) is actually quite simple, easy, and inexpensive believe it or not.

    Here are your requirements to get a D+ grade:
    — Locks for all classroom doors.

    Additionally for a C+ grade:
    — 4×4 ft. plywood sheet with nails ready for the floor at each doorway.
    (Guaranteed to slow down a spree killer who has to walk on the sharp nails.)

    Additionally for a B+ grade:
    — For every teacher a can of wasp spray that shoots a jet up to 21 ft.
    — A box of tennis ball sized rocks, enough for three per student.
    — Published policy to quickly pile everything in the classroom in front of the door and hit the attacker with wasp spray and rocks if the attacker manages to breach the LOCKED door.
    (Putting accurate kill shots on students while navigating a debris field and taking wasp spray in the eyes and rocks to the body is pretty much impossible.)

    Additionally for an A+ grade:
    — A locked metal cabinet in every classroom.
    — Unlocking the cabinet requires a teacher key in the cabinet AND two students to actuate a mechanical interlock that is beyond reach of the cabinet.
    — Some cabinets contain a single-shot break-action 20 gauge shotgun with a single shell containing a 5/8 ounce (273 grain) slug.
    — School staff, parents, students, and most importantly spree killers have no idea which cabinets contain a shotgun and which cabinets are empty.

    There really is no down side to my proposal. It addresses every objection that I have ever heard from a gun-grabber, teacher, or administrator. It costs almost nothing. It is safe. It would be highly effective at minimizing the potential death toll of a spree killer. It even prevents a teacher, student, staff member, or anyone else from acquiring the shotgun to improperly go berserk and kill a bunch of children or staff. (Should a teacher, student, or staff member somehow defeat the mechanical interlocks and break into the cabinet, they cannot kill multiple people with a single-shot shotgun and one single shot shell.) And the shotgun is the easiest firearm for people with next to zero training to use effectively — just point the barrel at the spree killer (no sights involved) and pull the trigger.

    The reason that schools will never implement my solution above is because they don’t want a solution that doesn’t involve Big Government. Yes, they would rather have your children die than to implement a solution that doesn’t need Big Government.

    1. avatar Jim says:

      For uncommon_sense: I respect your idea but as a teacher when it comes to your plan of a locked cabinet I can’t tell you how many times a week we get emails on campus that say have you seen my keys? Or hey, we found some keys here or there. Keys are a main target by students. We have had teachers and students get their cars stolen out of the parking lot because keys are stolen or lost and found frequently.
      I wouldn’t want the cabinet in my room. It is a target in and of itself especially where I teach.

  17. avatar Roymond says:

    @ uncommon_sense:

    Over the weekend I heard a former Home Ec teacher say she knew how to slow down a spree shooter at school: grease on the floor and vinegar in the face. I’d give her an A, if for no other reason than being aware of what she could do with what was in her classroom.
    I would not want to be the spree shooter coming to her classroom if she taught chemistry . . . .

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      That Home Ec. teacher was definitely on the right track. Now you can encourage her to take it to the next level.

      Nitpick: rather than trying to spread grease on the floor which would take a long time, she should have two large bottles of vegetable oil ready to dump on the floor at the doorway! (Dumping two bottles of vegetable oil would take a few seconds.)

  18. avatar Jim says:

    As a teacher I am torn with the idea of being armed on campus. Why would I want to run around my campus with a handgun and end up being shot by SWAT? How will responding officers know i am a goid guy?We actually discussed this in my classes a few times. I would most likely bunker down and hold in place. If an active shooter came to my room then I would engage. If students, especially my students, knew there were armed teachers on campus I would probably top everyone’s “he has the gun” list. Big, male, ex military, known gun guy. I hit just about every stereotype of gun owner. Yeah, I’m kinda old too. Now I’m a target from the students that steal everything not nailed down. The issue is not as cut and dry as many want to make it in my opinion.

    1. avatar Missouri Mule says:

      Your gut reaction to “bunker down and hold in place” is right on target. The fact that you thought about this puts you years ahead of many teachers. The Deitz model contemplates a few armed teachers defending in place and only fighting as a last resort. You don’t want to run around and pursue the attacker that is a task for people with blue body armor, radios and “high capacity magazines”. I am sure you also considered the blue escape slide as a funnel for the second killer who may be waiting outside.
      Since you are a reader of TAG I assume you know about “all” the incidents where the responding LEO’s shoot the good guy with a gun. Yes, I am being sarcastic. Follow instructions, don’t open your classroom door until the correct protocol is displayed, put the gun down.
      If you haven’t already read “Terror at Beslan” by John Giduck and “Day Of Wrath’ By William Forstchen; they are very thought provoking.
      Since you are a military guy you know the enemy decides the time and place of the attack. Our job is to defend our platoon – classroom and minimize causalities. This is scary stuff to think about because we realize that the first person being shot is probably how we will learn about the attack.
      By the way, Utah has had teacher carry since 1996. The last school shooting was in 1995. I don’t count suicides and parking lot non school murders (an ex mother-in-law shot her daughter-in-law). If you have a CCW permit and a teaching certificate you can carry on all school property.

      1. avatar jim says:

        Yep, I know the protocols of police encounters. No issues there. But what I am getting a sense of is that some think that if there is an active shooter, armed teachers are going to run out of their classrooms and engage the villain somewhere. With thousands of screaming kids running around. My campus is all I can talk about but trust me it is huge and very spread out. I am not going anywhere.

        Here is a good one for you. We had a bomb threat a while back. The plan? Evac to the football field. Oh, this is great. Everybody is here. In the open. Anyway…

  19. avatar AaronW says:

    Waiting for the first teacher to say, “I quit” open a brewski, pop open the chute, and slide away to freedom (and unemployment)

  20. avatar From Experience says:

    The biggest problem with the public school system is that it is a aging public school, relying on limited, conditional government funding.

    At some times during the school year, the only office staff in the building is a secretary. I wouldn’t arm any secretary that I’ve met with anything more than mace.

    You can’t just “arm teachers”. Most (that I know) are not wired to even lay a hand on a child when they are under attack from a student. They have to call the office to get the “response” person to come to the room and deal with the offending child.

    How many classrooms even have windows that will open? You expect a woman who can’t open a jar of pickles to break a window? Let’s say kids do flee, the school is responsible for those kids while running out onto the highway, running through neighborhoods, running the wrong way in traffic. Where are they supposed to go? The playground?

    I know many schools that don’t even have walls around each classroom. Do we have to remodel or build all new schools that conform to some “ultimate survival” set of conditions? Does an elementary school have to have the same set of standards as a high school?

    Let’s issue body armor for everyone in the school system. The kids are getting lazy anyway, they could use some exercise anyway.

  21. avatar John Howes says:

    Why is this woman’s name in every article title she writes?

  22. avatar jack burton says:

    We had something similar back in the mid-60s at our junior high school. The problem was that everyone used it for trash and other litter. Anyone going down the slide would have been cut up by hundreds of broken bottles and glass.

  23. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    Arm teachers? How about we just stop disarming those who have armed themselves?

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