Friday, February 16, 2018

School Shootings? Nope.

Normally I shoot to be more polished and amusing but I’m not amused in light of the recent school shootings. As a teacher, I have thoughts and decided to actually try to share them rather than go to Facebook and post a bunch of memes., Though in fairness, I have might have posted a few. These are clearly my opinion and mine alone.

Hire some Vets to be armed guards
Please do not hire anyone to sit in my school with a weapon unless they are a real police officer. It’s a lovely idea in the sense that I am sure there are many vets who’d be more than qualified and happy to so such a service. Yet in what capacity would they serve? If there was an active shooter, wouldn’t they have to stand own anyway?  To me it seems to make more sense to have actual law enforcement on hand who can coordinate better with authorities. Nope.

Arm the Teachers
Have you met most teachers? The way society has singled us out over the years, we are on a disgruntled level that makes post office employees be great Hallmark store greeters. Sorry, but in all seriousness, I do not want this responsibility placed on me and I am guessing many teachers would agree. I have parents trying to get me in trouble with administrators because I won’t take late work from a kid who refused to do it when it was assigned in class. I cannot foresee carrying a weapon would come with any less difficulties. In addition to lesson plans, data review meetings, professional trainings, oh, and actually teaching in class to ensure we have a good graduation rate, now I have to be Dirty Harry? The responsibilities are dense already. I do not feel comfortable with conceal and carry added to that mound. Nope.

I have little faith in any school system to even come up with a way to manage and finance this plan.  It took me three years of begging to get a printer for my classroom that I didn’t have to pay for. I teach Special Ed and have to continuously write IEPS and other forms of governmental paperwork not including all the stuff I have to print out for my class and students. How would money be allocated and where would it come from? Where would this money be allocated from and what already underfunded programs would lose out? Arts in School? Hiring more teachers? Retirement? Nope.

Speaking of which, let’s be frank. I don’t get paid much and that’s fine. I am not here for a paycheck yet we don’t get raises or even a realistic cost of living bump anymore. If I see a bump in my paycheck it’s because I know my healthcare costs are going up. That’s not political it’s just what we teachers are dealing with: conservative and liberals. So now in addition to everything I else I do, I could potentially be trained to carry? Once again, where is this money coming from? And do you really want to arm folks already frustrated and underpaid?  I am not trying to be funny here. Teachers deal with high levels of depression and anxiety already. Nope.

 I’m going to be as honest and I can right here and I am not trying to be dramatic. Every morning right before class, I make sure to lock my classroom door. Some mornings, I just am feeling lazy or enjoying talking to a student and I don’t feel like it but then the reality hits me,” What if this was the day we have an active shooter?” I get off my ass and get that door locked ASAP.

It’s a pretty sobering thought to have but I’ve had it for several years now. I lost a friend and fellow teacher back in 2007 at Virginia Tech. Jamie Bishop and I worked together for a few years at a summer camp and became good friends. He was mowed down by the shooter protecting his students. I know Jamie and his excellent good nature. I have no doubts he did everything he could to disarm the situation but was shot anyway. I ask myself every time, will I be able to be brave like that if I have to square off with an active shooter? It terrifies me because I want to protect my class but I also do not want to be a soundbite like my friend has become when another shooting happens. I have this thought EVERY SINGLE DAY. Nope.

What do we do?
OK, nothing new here but this what I have from the perspective of a teacher with his own kids in High School
I had a nice bit written about removing assault weapons but let’s face it, you’ve already heard it so let’s focus on what you can do directly at home:

Listen to your kids. When I say this I don’t mean to spend 30 mins hearing about what latest YouTube star just ate a Tide pod. I mean listen to what they like, what they do, how they spend their time. If you can’t name one of their friends, START PAYING MORE ATTENTION. 

Make sure your kids are aware of their surroundings. They are actually in the schools. If someone is saying violent stuff, mention it to a teacher or a counselor and you, as the parent, follow up (with email to create paper trail) . Keep it within reason what is reported because remember teens do weird stuff but if your kid is talking about a student proudly proclaiming he is a sociopath or likes to hurt small animals, might be the time to say something. Better to be safe than sorry, it quite literally my mantra at school now. It’s much easier to apologize to a student and their parents rather than have to live with the guilt of knowing I could stop something horrible.

Tell them you love them and yes, this is not normal.
 I don’t get any of this nor do I understand any of it and why nothing is being done. About that I am very upfront with my kids. It’s not right. It’s a school not Beirut. My wife is great at getting our kids to open up and share their fears. From this we have usually a pretty good discussion about all this.  
It’s not an easy problem to solve with no easy solutions. The worst is that so much of this is dependent on factors out of our reach. Be loud. Make your voice heard. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and most all, vote out these a-holes getting gun lobby money from office.

I am going to put up with this anymore? Nope. 

1 comment: