Monday, August 13, 2007

My Tax Dollars At Work

Perusing the Atlanta Journal-Constitution online (registration required) this morning, this article caught my eye right away because it pertains to my county school system. I learned that "my" schools have upgraded to state-of-the-art security.

About $11.2 million in security upgrades are being rolled out this year districtwide.

There will be more eyes on middle and high school students from added hallway cameras. New ones will be trained on parking lots and exterior areas of high school buildings, said James Arrowood, Cobb schools security chief. The number of campus surveillance cameras has doubled to about 1,000.

The cameras fill in former blind spots within buildings, enabling officials to see "every square inch" inside.

Parents will notice tighter security at elementary schools. Access will be restricted to designated doors, generally a school's front entry. Visitors now are required by state law to report to the front office and sign in. To make sure visitors sign in, the district has installed monitored electronic locks on secondary doors.

Every. Square. Inch.

I know that kind of language is supposed to make parents feel safe and cozy about sending their offspring to government school. However, it totally creeps me out. Two questions have been banging around the inside of my head all day:

What is wrong with these schools that these kinds of security measures are necessary?


What other government institutions proudly boast that every square inch of their facilities is under constant surveillance? (Answer: prisons and state mental hospitals)

The Cobb County School District has a Chief Security Guard Peopleguy who even acknowledges with some regret the necessity of such measures:

"Unfortunately, in the world we live in, these are extra precautions that will help ensure a safe learning environment," he said.

"It's hard to hit a balance between being very open to parents at schools, welcoming them, and having them come and go as they want to."

I am so pleased not to be putting my kids into this environment. Happy First Day of Kindergarten to me!

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