A child died today in North Carolina, shot at his own school.

As of right now, I do not know the circumstances surrounding the shooting, and it would be irresponsible for me to speculate.  But I can say, with certainty, that it is a tragedy that a child — any child — had access to a gun with which to shoot another child.  And that the roughly 2,000 children at that school have now, unwillingly, been inducted into a club that already had almost 200,000 members — kids who have also survived shootings at school in recent years.  Will they ever feel safe again?

Will any of us?  I know that in the years since the horrifying shooting in Newtown, Ct., it has become almost a reflex for me to survey my children’s classrooms at Meet the Teacher, noting the places they could hide or escape if necessary.  I breathed a small sigh of relief this year when my 4th grader moved back into the building after spending 3rd grade in a trailer; I’m almost certain that those thin metal structures aren’t capable of stopping bullets.

Our schools are doing the best that they can to keep our children safe, but as usual the needs are great and the resources scarce.  Statewide, we have $8 billion in unmet school construction needs (those trailers aren’t going away anytime soon).  We know that adequate numbers of school counselors, psychologists and social workers can help, but so far we haven’t funded those professionals at sufficient ratios.  And it appears that we as a society can’t even have a real discussion about the thing that could help the most — making guns much harder to access.

Our schools need our help.  There is no real possibility that they can keep every kid safe all of the time, but there is more that can be done.  As you go to vote, think about what your candidates are saying about school safety and what they’re willing to do to support our schools.

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