Can we forgive these "mistakes?"

(Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP)

Yes, we can forgive. But not until the people responsible own up to their failures.

At issue is yet another example of failed liberal policies that have resulted in the loss of life and the dramatic reduction of safety in public schools.


This National Review article focuses on Denver’s schools, but this is part of a pattern that shows up across the nation. After the George Floyd riots, there was a nationwide movement to kick police or “school resource officers” out of public schools. There were lots of warnings that this was a terrible idea and that it would be a disaster, but activists assured everybody that the presence, not absence of police was the real safety problem in public schools.

They were, of course, very wrong.

Police wound up roaming the halls of the public schools in the first place for a serious reason; it wasn’t because the White power structure was determined to seek out and oppress Black and Brown students. It was because Black, Brown, White, and every other color student was being put at risk by some very bad apples going to those schools.

Denver’s majority-minority school district was among a series of districts nationwide that cut ties with their local police in wake of the racial-justice riots that erupted after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis in 2020. There were better ways, they insisted, to make their schools safe.

But there were warnings in Denver that the plan to short-circuit racism in the schools by removing the police presence would not go as smoothly as supporters suggested.

Many school leaders were adamantly against the idea. Their concerns were ignored. “The public does not realize how many knives and guns and drugs [Denver police] and my department have recovered in the past several years,” one district safety officer warned, according to the Denverite news website.

Three years later, amid deteriorating safety conditions, district leaders are pushing to reintegrate police back into Denver schools. They’re following the lead of school district in places such as Phoenix, Ariz., and Alexandria, Va., which have already reinstated school-resource officers amid rising crime. Last month, Washington, D.C., leaders quietly backtracked on a plan to phase police officers out of all city schools by 2025.


None of these moves has turned out as we were told to expect. Kids are getting shot, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Schools are not only dramatically less safe, but without a safe learning environment not much learning can actually get done. For the sake of an ideological talking point, kids have been seriously harmed.

Just this school year, there have been at least three shooting incidents at or around East High, one of the city’s oldest schools.

In September, two people were shot outside the school at a nearby rec center, including 14-year-old RJ Harding, who was shot in the mouth and survived. In February, 16-year-old soccer player Luis Garcia was shot in his car outside of the school. He later died. And in March, 17-year-old Austin Lyle shot two school administrators who were tasked with patting him down before he entered the school. The administrators survived. Lyle fled, and killed himself.

All of this is, in itself, newsworthy, but the news itself is simply part of a much larger pattern that deserves focus: the people making some of the most important decisions in our society are destroying it. They are not making good-faith errors, either, because if that were the case they would have provided some data and arguments to back up their policies and would have engaged in a policy debate about the best way to provide safety for children in schools.


They didn’t. They relentlessly attacked anybody questioning their assertions, shoved destructive policies on everybody, and proceeded to create a totally predictable and predicted disaster. The people predicting disaster were right–and it was obvious that they were–but by sheer force of vile attacks and political pressure, the people who were determined to destroy things got their way.

Earlier this year, a middle-school principal in Denver requested that one of his students be expelled or required to take classes online after the student was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder. His requests were denied.

“As there is no evidence that [the student] was in possession of a firearm on his school grounds or at any other DPS school, the request for an extended suspension and expulsion hearing is denied. Please return the student to school,” the district’s student discipline program matter wrote to the principal, according to a report by a Denver NBC affiliate.

The district also didn’t expel a student who wrote in a text, “About to shoot up the school and go for the principal only.” District leaders told the principal that if she received a restraining order, she would be the one kept from coming to school, not the student.

As I asked at the beginning, “Can this be forgiven?”


No, it cannot. At least until the people who perpetrated this crime against children admit their errors and abase themselves. They are still powerful and still have a grip on public policymaking. The people who were right are still largely powerless.

There is no forgiveness without repentance. This principle is not true because revenge is sweet–it rarely is, since the damage done remains–but because the unrepentant are left to wreak havoc elsewhere. They are still a danger to the public. They still have a stranglehold on our schools and our cities.

Just as Randi Weingarten is still in control over the American Federation of Teachers despite having grievously harmed millions of students, too many bureaucrats simply fail upward ready to destroy new things.

Repentance is the first step, although it should not completely exonerate the wrongdoers. They still should be removed from any position of power. But it would be a good first step toward healing a growing rift between the powers that be and the public.

Not that it will happen. Their grip on power is almost absolute, and no number of victims left in their wake is sufficient to warrant dismissal or regret.

Until Americans quit cringing before the people in power, those in charge will abuse our trust. It must stop, and only the voters can stop it.


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