By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — In the wake of last month’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, there has been a lot of talk about “hardening” schools. Wisconsin led the way with a $100 million school safety program.
But four years later, safety is being compromised by liberal politics and a failure to stay alert.
In 2018, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed Act 143, signed into law by fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The law created the Office of School Safety in the state Department of Justice, which released grants to schools across the state.
The funding provided upgrades to the physical security of school buildings, including security systems, security cameras and in some cases rebuilding entire school entrances to make them secure. It also provided training assistance and mental health resources.
“I’m so disappointed that schools are not as accessible as they were when I was a kid, but unfortunately that’s what we’ve had to do,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua), who served in the state Legislature at the time the act was passed. “The schools that I see, compared to 15 to 20 years ago up in northern Wisconsin, are more secure.
“Act 143 is one of the things we did that actually had an impact.”
But four years later, some schools are still living dangerously.
Woke politics have driven police officers out of schools in districts like Madison and Milwaukee.
In November, Police were called to multiple fights after a brawl broke out at Madison East High School. By the time police arrived, an estimated 250 students were outside either watching the fight or participating. An officer was reportedly struck in the face while trying to break up the fight. Police had to use pepper spray to move back the crowd as some students tried to block officers from intervening. Five students were transported to the hospital.
That was just one of the many incidents of disorder and violence after the Madison Metropolitan School District, doing the radical left’s bidding, ended their contract with the Police Department to provide School Resource Officers on campus.
Madison police warned they would be back when the district removed them from the schools, and it wouldn’t have been in a preventative capacity.
As of early November, officers had been called to East High School 63 times since the beginning of the school year.
Tiffany said the campaign to remove police from schools is part of the left’s dangerous defund the police movement. That campaign continues, as President Joe Biden insists sweeping gun control laws, not hardening schools, is the answer to the threat of school shootings.
“So on one hand, they’re trying to take advantage of this tragedy in Uvalde, but when it comes to actually doing something, they wanted to defund the police, including those school resource officers,” the congressman said.
Meanwhile, some schools are refusing to do the simple things to protect students, teachers and staff. As Channel 3000 reported, Cottage Grove parent Mike Sokolowski was shocked to learn from his daughter that her middle school doesn’t conduct school violence drills. According to the news outlet:
…. Sokolowski reached out to school officials and the local police department to get some answers. While he says the school didn’t offer much information, an officer told him the school hadn’t conducted an active threat drill since 2018.
“I found it really concerning that the officer told me they hadn’t done it in a number of years,” said Sokolowski. “I know that they value the kids’ safety. I don’t think there’s any malicious intent or anything, but I want to make sure that they’re taking it seriously and that the kids are prepared for any circumstance.”
He says he’s frustrated with the lack of training for kids and what he sees as a lack of communication from the school.
“If they have it written on their website as far as what they are doing, the expectation from me as a parent is that they’re doing those things. And if they’re not and there’s a good reason, that might be okay, but there’s just no communication,” said Sokolowski.
In response to questions, the Monona Grove School District says they do in fact conduct active shooter drills, but that they look different based on the school and the age of students. In February, the month after Sokolowski first started asking questions about the drills according to email records he shared, the district says they audited their school safety response policies.
Act 143 requires Wisconsin’s schools to conduct at least two violence drills a year. Just what those drills look like is up to the schools.
School safety experts say plans and preventative strategies are only as good as the people implementing them.