My heart is broken – crushed.
My mind is angry.
I’ve got a few things I need to say about this mostly avoidable tragedy. There is plenty of blame to go around – from legislators that apparently can’t find funding to place shelters at schools, to parents that feel safer leaving their children at school than having their little ones in their arms, to school administrators that ignore weather service bulletins demanding precautions be taken as dangerous storms approach during school hours. It’s high time we made some changes.
How in the world do schools in Oklahoma not have storm shelters for every classroom? This is unfathomable to me. There are 1,995 schools in Oklahoma, including private and charter schools. The average class size for those schools is 15 students per class. The cost to build a seven-feet-tall by eight-feet-wide by 12-feet-long shelter underground is approximately $32,000. There are approximately 43,000 teachers in Oklahoma. Let’s assume they all have a classroom of 15 children. One shelter located outside every two classrooms would seat 36 adults, so 30 children and two teachers should be easily enough accommodated for a 30-minute rampage. Under that premise, the total cost for Oklahoma to put a shelter for every two classrooms in their schools would be $701,298,701. That’s three-quarters of a billion dollars. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Oklahoma has a population of 3.81 million people. Let’s just say all families are of four in order to make the math simple. So that equals 952,500 tax-paying families at a minimum. The tax burden to complete such a project would be less than $736 per tax-paying family, or $30 per paycheck at most for one year. Do you still think this seems like an impossible project?
How could parents possibly leave their children at these schools? I know – we’ve all been told our entire lives that having our children crouch in a hallway with their heads between their legs is the safest place they could be in a tornado. That’s nonsense, and every one of us should have known it before now. Here in Indiana, my wife pulls our children when such storms are impending during school hours. We watch the weather very closely from home and work and talk to each other. We make decisions based upon real forecast threats. If we feel like it’s cutting too close, we bring our kids home so we can go underground! Yesterday, the National Weather Service issued a warning in the morning that dangerous storms would be crossing the state during school hours and all precautions should be taken to insure safety. Parents – you are the only person that can make the decision for your child to leave school if the school isn’t closed. Why would you not do it? You’re at work? Seriously?
This brings me to my last point. What the hell were the school administrators thinking by not releasing school at 1 p.m. or so? The school year is literally days from ending. What could be so important that you risked (and lost) dozens of lives? Our little school in Chandler, Indiana closes school early when a dangerous storm is coming. They understand that they are not equipped to guarantee safety. They’ll sure try if they have to. I know those teachers would huddle over my daughters just like those brave, helpless teachers in Oklahoma did. But why should they have to? Why wouldn’t the schools have put kids on buses at 1 p.m. and ordered them home? If parents can not be relied upon to make the right decisions, then the schools have to step in and make the decisions for them.
The fact is that those people all have to live with decisions that they made yesterday, and those children and teachers that died in those schools didn’t get a choice. They relied upon those decisions to be the right ones, and they were let down in their moment of need. I can not stand idly by and not say my piece. It’s time Americans focused on what’s important and stop all this stupid bickering and political correctness.
May God comfort those that lost loved ones, young and old.
My heart is broken – crushed.
My head is angry.