NORMAN — The notion of placing armed guards in every school in the nation strikes fear in the minds of many educators. We’ve heard from a few who say more guns on campuses is not the answer.
But all say there is a need for more secure schools and a greater emphasis on mental health. Oklahoma lawmakers will come together on the issue. Leaders of both parties announced formation of a task force that will examine how to make Oklahoma schools the nation’s safest.
That makes sense since schools are mostly a function of state and local governments. The federal role, although growing, has historically been limited.
The Newtown, Conn., massacre of 20 children and six adults Dec. 14 has started the national conversation. Norman schools began an immediate review of its security procedures. Building projects approved in the past decade have included a renewed emphasis on student and faculty security.
Besides safety and security, state officials plan to look at mental health issues as well. Gov. Mary Fallin has indicated a willingness to address mental health. State, in-patient mental health facilities have closed or scaled down in the past two decades, leaving community mental health centers carrying a bigger load.
The state’s task force will include non-legislator experts on education, law enforcement and mental health. It will be lead by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a former U.S. Secret Service agent.