Classroom layout (Photo credit: Penny Coutas)[/caption]
This has been the season of Sandy sadness. First a hurricane levels the Jersey Shore and devastates surrounding areas, and now the tragedy that occurred in Sandy Hook, CT devastates us all.
This is a sensitive time that brings up a number of sensitive issues including mental illness, the desensitization of youth through ever more realistic violent films and digital games that reward the player for more violence, our mainstream news practices, the propensity for copycat criminals, the right to free expression and of course the right to bear arms and how the arming of America has led to so many more gun injuries and killings in the US versus other advanced nations. If I stated a position and an opinion on any of the above, they would be largely uninformed. However, I’ll weigh in with a possible solution.
We all know it will take months and years to take a step back to analyze root causes and recommend productive action and pass new legislation. In the meantime, with so many millions of firearms in circulation, the notion that your children are safe in schools is a fallacy. All of this adds up to an impossible situation, where we can sadly expect to see more incidents while the powers that be work through all of these and more issues. One thing that should be extremely clear to a lot of us is that we cannot wait to better protect kids in school and provide them with new ways to evacuate what can unexpectedly turn a great learning environment into a war zone nightmare. Recall what happened when IED’s were rampantly wounding our soldiers. Soldiers took it upon themselves to begin welding donated armor to the bottom of vehicles deployed in the Middle East. They did not wait for congressional approvals and new budgets to catch up because lives were at risk. In my opinion, the entrepreneurial ecosystem can do this as well and help define and solve the school safety problem.
The U.S. is a country of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are uniquely qualified to solve problems quickly. They turn negatives into positives and see opportunity where others see problems. Entrepreneurs are action-oriented doers. While all of these issues are being discussed in Washington, I’d like to call on any entrepreneurs that read this to tweet or re-post an entrepreneur challenge to protect kids in our schools. We have the power of crowdsourcing, the power of networks and fully vested interests in coming up with ideas to protect kids in schools. We have experience creating business models, getting them funded and implemented. There’s nothing wrong if someone makes a business out of this, as profit-generating efforts are self-sustaining. The startup ecosystem can drive change, and here are some ideas to get started.
- Crowdsource solutions
- It would be great to have a web developer create a “Grand Central Station” for ideas from diverse experts, for donor commitments, state by state feedback, and progress updates to channel the solutions.
- Commit capital
- It would be great to see the capital folks, angels, venture capital and private equity, offer no strings grants to start companies throughout the states that focus on this problem.
- Involve industry
- It would be great for some security manufacturers and consultants to donate time and materials to solving the problem.
- Think locally
- It would be great if local tradespeople who donated their weekend work installing systems could later write off the donated time on their taxes.
- Consult Security Experts
- There must be thousands of veterans throughout the US who can add value to the security problem after creating green zones and operating in dangerous environments
- Consult Psychiatric Experts
- There must be hundreds of psychologists that can add value as to how solutions can be implemented in a way that is interpreted as a positive by schoolchildren and teachers
- Involve Teachers
In the end, all that matters is that the problem of kids’ safety in schools is solved rapidly, and without having to wait for all sides to debate and negotiate the issues. The goal might be to arrive at a handful of standard solutions that can be authorized and implemented locally.
Let’s get the brainstorm going.