The U.S. has been slow to respond to homegrown radicals, creating a vulnerability for domestic terrorism right here in the U.S., according to a new report by the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission.
The Associated Press highlighted their findings in Report: US must deal with homegrown terror problem. The full report is available at Assessing the Terrorist Threat by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
It is interesting to note the U.S. Department of Education is one of 13 federal agencies on a National Security Council interagency work group looking at how to counter radical extremism in the U.S. and internationally. Given the Education Department has hesitated to discuss schools as potential terror targets, and considering the currently skewed federal policy and funding focus is on bullying, climate, and incivility while violence takes a back seat, it is disappointing but not surprising they have not done more on this issue.
So what does this have to do with school safety? A lot. While the reports do not specifically address schools and terrorism, I have talked for years and written about schools as potential targets, and the need to make schools less softer of a target. In 2007, I testified on to Congress at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing where I stressed the potential impact of terrorism on schools and school buses, and urged Congress to increase funding for school emergencyy preparedness planning.
My colleague, Chuck Hibbert, has long noted that the Columbine High School shooters were, in essence, domestic terrorists. It is not unforeseeable to think that homegrown terrorists could directly or indirectly impact safety at our schools.
While no one wants to be alarmist, the reality is a substantial portion of the U.S. population can be found on most weekdays attending or working in our nation’s schools. School buses are also a concern, as buses have been terror targets internationally and also pick-up and drop-off every day at the same time, same location every day.
As our leaders discuss threats to our broader community, we all must take a deeper look at how these threats potentially could apply to our schools. Most importantly, we must then do something to prevent it.
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