School safety push? Mostly talk here

By Benjamin Yount
SPRINGFIELD  —  What can Illinois do to prevent a school shooting? Likely not much, because whatever Gov. Pat Quinn’s school safety summit recommends will cost money, and Illinois does not have a dime to spare.
Quinn met with almost a dozen law enforcement agencies, several school groups, and a handful of mental health organizations Tuesday in Springfield for the first school safety summit. The governor called for the meeting shortly after a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at a school in Newtown, Conn.
“I think there may be some ideas for legislation,” Quinn said as he brushed off questions about specific school-safety recommendations. “I am going to be giving a speech a couple weeks from now, the State of the State, and I think we really need to make sure this issue is brought front and center.”
The governor talked, in a meandering news conference after the safety summit, about the old “duck and cover” school safety drills from a previous generation. Quinn said the new safety focus should be about “sharing and caring.”
“We never can have silence about violence,” the governor said.
Other members of the school safety summit said getting students to speak-up about potential threats is, perhaps the best idea from the Springfield meeting.
It would also be the cheapest.
Roger Eddy, a former state lawmakers and current head of the Illinois Association of School Boards, said Illinois cannot afford to do much more than talk about school safety.
“Certainly most things are going to cost money and resources,” Eddy said. “And some communities are going to have to make tough choices about that.”
Cinda Klickna, who spoke at the safety summit for the Illinois Education Association, said the price tag could be huge.
“If you are going to have resources for students, programs for students, and personnel to help students, you are going to have to pay for it somehow,” Klickna said.
Quinn angrily denied that if Illinois were to pay the nearly $1 billion it owes local schools and local government that there would be ample money for school safety.
“I’ve gone out and gotten resources for our schools, and for a lot of other things in Illinois, two years ago. Check it out,” Quinn retorted.
The Illinois Comptroller’s office reports that the state owes local schools across Illinois $706 million, and owes local governments $250 million.
Eddy said it’s tough to keep school resource officers or add new security measures when local districts are being shorted by the state.
“In many cases it does come down to funding,” Eddy said.
Quinn did not say when he expects to have final recommendations from the safety summit. The governor will deliver his State of the State speech Feb. 6.
Contact Benjamin Yount at [email protected]

Comments

What can Illinois do to prevent a school shooting?

"What can Illinois do to prevent a school shooting?"
There are several easy answers, but this one is my personal favorite: defend the defenseless. I'm certain that there are many retired police officers out there who would jump at the chance to pack a little heat and guard our schools from horrible atrocities like what happened in Newtown.
Here's another: enforce the laws that are already on the books with regard to gun laws, especially the background checks. VP Joe Biden recently said the following when speaking with NRA representative Jim Baker: "And to your point, Mr. Baker, regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately."
Mr. Biden basically admits here that they don't even conduct a real background check. You know...a background check like the one I passed (with flying colors) to get the gov't security clearance I currently hold...the kind of background check that involves a DHS agent visiting everyone on your list of references needed to prove 1) where you've lived, 2) what schools you've attended 3) what jobs you've held and what countries you've visited (and why) for the past 7 years. The DHS agent will visit everyone on your list, sit down and interview them for up to 30 minutes to determine whether/not you should be considered for said security clearance. I imagine that Illinois may require something like this to qualify applicants for the new concealed carry laws that are coming (yes, to Illinois) within the next 6 months.