What’s my “Why?”: A look behind the scenes of my writings on school safety, security and emergency preparedness

Posted by on March 16, 2024

A popular question buzzing through the business and education worlds today asks, “What’s your ‘Why’?”

Here’s a closer look at some of the “why” behind my articles and posts about school safety issues:

“Does this guy ever post positive things?” or “Are we actually learning from failures?”

I hear this question from time-to-time: Does this guy ever post positive things? The answer: Yes.

If you have not seen what some would call “pure positives,” scroll back over time. You missed some.

Surprisingly though, the purely positive posts (think: SRO saves kid from choking to death, for example) often get the fewest views, likes, interactions, comments, engagement, etc. People say they want “positive things” but do not seem to pay much attention or engage with them.  I will continue to post them because I am not looking for “likes” or view count numbers, but it tells me a lot about which publications people zero in on and which they tend to brush over.

But the bigger point is that writings some deem as “negative” are written to stimulate conversations on how to do things differently and better. For example, things that should never have been done, questions around fidelity of implementation, or a critical analysis of an issue.

Research points to the value of learning from failures. Leaders should be red teaming and critically thinking about potential failures before they even embark on a new program or strategy. Perhaps the most complete “failure” is failing to learn from “failure”? (How’s that for a tongue and mind-twister?)

So, I see learning from failures, stimulating conversations on how to think differently and do things differently, etc. as positives, not negatives.

My writing goal is also to illuminate topics for those in my professional ecosystem (school leaders, school safety professionals, security consultants, etc.). School leaders are typically not security-experienced or formally educated in security. They do not typically know what questions to ask about security products and tech, and they certainly do not know the intricacies of security marketing spin, scams and schemes.

I write to get people — particularly those working as or with school administrators, boards, and school safety professionals — to be critical thinkers and strategic school safety leaders.

If advocating for critical thinking and strategic school safety leadership is negative, I’ll take a hit for doing so anytime!

Advocating for critical thinking and strategic school safety leadership: Selling ideas, not products

My advocacy for school leader critical thinking, strategic school safety leadership, and heightened awareness about security industry dynamics is often misinterpreted as being anti-physical security, anti-technology, or anti-a specific vendor or product. This is not the intent. It is really about selling ideas, not products.

We understand and recommend physical security measures, along with many other things, as appropriate in our more comprehensive assessment of school security and emergency preparedness. We do so when it is identified as appropriate to address specific purposes, is the realistic potential to be implemented with fidelity, and is appropriate for a school context, among other reasons.

We also believe that school security products and technology are a supplement to, not a substitute for, a more comprehensive and human-factor based approach to school safety. The first and best line of defense is a well-trained, highly-alert staff and student body. Any truly knowledgeable and honest security salesperson will admit that their products are only as good as the people using them.

Some topics I write about may get more intense attention and analysis when they are of a more urgent and escalating issue facing school and safety leaders. So, there may be more articles and posts reinforcing emerging themes or trends at a point in time. For example, artificial intelligence in school security is a very hot and timely topic with implications for educators and school security professionals, so you may see more on that than another topic for a while.

Many vendors will not agree with the things I say or emphasize because my writings don’t fit the narratives of their sales pitches or company sales goals. We are independent and non-product/service affiliated, so we have no hidden “partnerships” or business deals in the backroom with other vendors. This means vendors cannot buy my thoughts, names, and endorsements, which causes many to be frustrated, some to be bitter, and even a few to become angry trolls.

In summary, my writing is about selling ideas, not products. It is not anti-XYZ. It is about advancing critical thinking and strategic school safety leadership.

And that is my “why” for writing and posting about school safety, security and emergency preparedness.

Dr. Kenneth S. Trump is President of National School Safety and Security Services  National School Safety and Security Services

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