(I wrote this blog in February after the Parkland shooting and after President Trump suggested that teachers in the classroom be armed. But the backup drive didn’t – back up that is. So I am writing it again. It seems like old business, but as we have learned with school attacks, there is no old business.)
It seems to me that adults in the United States have let students down. Adults apparently don’t have the ability, the guts or the interest to stop school violence. At the latest school shooting (as of June 6) 8 students and two teachers were killed and 10 hurt at Santa Fe High School in Texas. It is very sad that one of the students at Santa Fe was not surprised. She assumed that a killer would finally get to her school. This is not an article about the issues of gun control, or about the PTSD that might follow these kids the rest of their lives. Nor is it about the bravery of the students from Parkland and other schools who have taken this political hot potato on the road. They are heroic. No, this is about Trump’s idea that teachers should be armed. As usual, Trump has on chimed in on something he knows nothing about or hasn’t given serious thought to. Having been a teacher for 36 years and still substituting, I must take exception to this idiotic solution to the problem.
First, the procedure for dealing with an armed intruder is called a lock down. The teacher keeps her students in her class and steps outside to see if there are any loitering students. After shepherding them inside, she locks the door and moves the students away from windows. If done correctly, no shooter gets beyond the locked door, so she has no one to shoot with the gun she has if she has one.
The second reason involves the size of school campuses. Like at Parkland, many schools cover many acres. It is true that a teacher might have a shooter near his class, but for most teachers, the shooter may be far away at another wing of the school. Considering that a lock down is usually in order, the teacher would have to leave his students and roam around the school until he found the perpetrator – leaving his students unprotected.
Third, if a teacher has a gun, that doesn’t mean that s/he has the calm or training to take on a shooter. Training on a gun range is not the same as having military or police gun practice. It is not unusual to read about these school attacks and about deputies or guards who don’t step in to face the shooter – and they have been trained. Since Parkland there have been several examples of teachers at school with firearms who shot them off by accident harming students. One was a week after Parkland.
Fourth and fifth, if a teacher brings a gun to school, where will she put it? Where will she put the shells? How long will it take her to get to the gun and the shells and get ready to fire after she carries out her directions for the lock down. What safety measures will be put in place to make sure students won’t get their hands on the gun or the shells? Will there be a gun safe in every classroom?
Sixth, during a lock down teachers must check to be sure that all students are ushered into class. Loiterers might end up in a crossfire if a teacher actually faces the shooter.
Seventh, all these scenarios are based on a shooter from outside the classroom. How many of you know a perfect teacher, calm, deliberate, unruffled? I truly loved most of my students, but I am human. I got angry, and one time I actually pushed a student who refused to cooperate with me at the end of the day. I got overwhelmed with what went on in my classroom and what went on in my private life. It seems everything wrong with our culture is blamed on teachers, so why would we think we could trust them not to crack and blow away the thirty students under their care in a closed classroom where they have nowhere to run.
Trump has said that teachers love their students and would do anything in their power to protect those kids but arming them is just too dangerous. Schools/safety procedures are not designed to put an armed teacher in the right place at the right time. Teachers with guns might not have the appropriate training or demeanor to take on a dangerous person or a student might appear who shouldn’t be there. Where to keep guns and shells is a problem and students might find them and use them. Teachers are human. The more of them who have guns, the more likely someone will use them.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King.Jr. As a nation we are not thinking rationally about the issue of gun violence. Our government – SUPPOSEDLY the most powerful on earth – can find no solution to a problem only our country has. The gifts of education: intensively and think critically? Apparently, as they play politics with our children’s lives, their gift is death, PTSD, and fear. Arm a teacher? Is that the best they can do to solve the problem. I’m not surprised. Teachers have been blamed for most of the problems of our world. Here’s a chance to make them scapegoats on another issue.