In an age where it seems very little can engender support from both sides of the aisle, it appears there is at least one bipartisan effort underway on Capitol Hill.
And it’s also on a topic on which there should be a great deal of agreement.
Georgia’s own Sen. David Perdue and Alabama Democrat Doug Jones have introduced a bill that, in their hopes, would strengthen school safety across the country.
The School Safety Clearinghouse Act, if passed and signed into law, would set up a federal clearinghouse for information on the best practices of school security and design.
The School Safety Clearinghouse Act comes in the wake of the Federal Commission on School Safety’s recommendation late last year of a federal clearinghouse through which states and communities can see and share what kind of school security technology and design is being put into place.
In our own state, the budget has a $30,000 school security grant for each of Georgia’s schools, nearly 2,300 of them.
The bill does not mandate how local school system should keep their schools safe. But it would allow them to see, much easier, how are others are doing it and if those ideas are something a local system wants to put in place.
Under the provisions of the School Safety Clearinghouse Act, the Department of Homeland Security would manage the center of information. It would include recommendations made by engineers, architects, first responders, buildings security experts and mental health advocates, according to its sponsors.
In an op-ed piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this week, Sen. Perdue noted that rethinking building design has worked before. Security and safety design was modernized after the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. Other buildings and facilities were updated and new ones had safety put in as part of the design after 9/11.
“Yet after years of tragic incidents, little has been done to make school design safer,” Perdue said. “The private sector is working hard to change that. State and local officials are working hard to change that. The bipartisan School Safety Clearinghouse Act will help them make that change possible so that we can better protect all of our children.”
It stands to be a step in the right direction and if agreement can be reached to help make schools safer today and tomorrow, who knows what else can come from lawmakers working together, instead of against each other.