Rebuilding schools in wake of shootings is the right thing to do

Jordan Reid is the founding editor of Ramshackle Glam.
Liberal Opinion

Jordan Reid

Author; Founding Editor, Ramshackle Glam
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Both sides of the aisle can agree the recent spate of school shootings in the U.S. represents tragedies of the worst proportion, with families and communities torn apart in their wake. The schools themselves become permanent scars, reminders of the events and the carnage. So what should happen to the buildings where these tragedies occurred? Straight Arrow News contributor Jordan Reid has an idea but wants to make sure we don’t take our eye off gun reform legislation:

At Robb Elementary, the question of whether the building should be demolished is complicated by the fact that for many in Uvalde, the school is a symbol of the history of the town’s Mexican-American residents. The school dates back to a time when Mexican-American children were segregated from their white counterparts who mostly lived on the town’s east side and sent to schools there. Residents worked for decades to improve conditions at Robb Elementary, and some are understandably conflicted.

Should buildings where school shootings have taken place be razed to the ground and rebuilt? It does seem like the right response to minimize the emotional triggers that students and staff may associate with their learning environment, for sure. To ask those children and teachers to ever again step foot into a building where they experienced such horror is unthinkable. 

But the fact that legislation had to be created around this situation, as if it weren’t an outlier, but rather a certain eventuality? That’s the problem. That’s what we should be focusing on.

And so I’ll close with this: Take down the schools. Rebuild them into wonderful places that bring to mind hope, connection, education, and the future. But for god’s sake, don’t let those efforts distract from what really needs to be done, and because it bears repeating, what really needs to be done is reducing access to military-grade weapons. Enough with the half-measures already. Just enough.

In the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde Texas that left 19 fourth-grade students and two teachers dead, Joe Biden visited the school and promised Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez that the school would be razed and rebuilt. And it’ll almost certainly happen – there’s a federal grant process that helps schools that have experienced mass shootings get taken down. 

It’s become the de facto response to these shootings – the tangible outcome that, one imagines, legislators hope will bring some healing to the communities that have suffered such imaginable losses. Take down the school. Take away the constant reminder of what happened here. And, perhaps, take away some measure of the pain, if that’s even possible. I don’t know that it is. 

Four years after the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut, where 20 children ages six and seven and six teachers were massacred, the school was rebuilt, and the now-fourth graders who had been kindergarteners during the attack returned.

Columbine High School, the site of the 1999 slaying, reopened four months later, but the library where the majority of the deaths occurred was rebuilt and renamed the Hope Library. 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, where 16 students and 3 staff members were killed, took down building 12, where most of the victims were killed. It was later replaced with a new building. 

At Robb Elementary, the question of whether the building should be demolished is complicated by the fact that for many in Uvalde, the school is a symbol of the history of the town’s Mexican-American residents. The school dates back to a time when Mexican American children were segregated from their white counterparts, who mostly lived on the town’s east side and sent to schools there. Residents worked for decades to improve conditions at Robb Elementary, and some are understandably conflicted.

Should buildings where school shootings have taken place be razed to the ground and rebuilt? It does seem like the right response to minimize the emotional triggers that students and staff may associate with their learning environment, for sure. To ask those children and teachers to ever again step foot into a building where they experienced such horror is unthinkable. 

But the fact that legislation had to be created around this situation, as if it weren’t an outlier, but rather a certain eventuality? That’s the problem. That’s what we should be focusing on. 

And so I’ll close with this: Take down the schools. Rebuild them into wonderful places that bring to mind hope, connection, education, and the future. But for god’s sake, don’t let those efforts distract from what really needs to be done, and because it bears repeating, what really needs to be done is reducing access to military-grade weapons. Enough with the half-measures already. Just enough.


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