Of all the things that could be done to education, the worst would be the arming of American school teachers.
Seriously, it would be disastrous…Countless teachers would quit or retire in order to avoid having to carry gun in a school or work around them. Many more would never entered the profession. Teachers are under-fire in this country both literally and figuratively. We are praised by individuals for our work and demonized by the media and politicians. At the same time, we have to worry about the safety of our students. Today at my school, I had to twice remind our technology coordinator not to prop open one of the outside doors. Even after recent events, he still did not understand the issue with his actions. He acted as if he would be a deterrent to someone coming into the school which is connected to a dorm for teenage mothers who have no place to go. My words were lost on him. He laughed them away.
If we want the attacks on teacher and students to stop on both fronts then we have to fully fund education, cease to make unrealistic demands and allow teachers to be the leaders in education. No,these steps won’t stop all school violence, but there is a better chance of school personnel being aware of potential issues when they aren’t worrying about the next round of testing or how they are going to pay for little Luke’s braces. Teaching used to be a profession that helped lift families into the middle class. Now it is the profession that middle class families look down upon.
As a teacher, I love what I do, but I am exhausted by the ever increasing responsibility that is being placed before me and the growing pile of bills at home. I am an example of how teachers are underpaid, overwhelmed and burning out. Most still don’t make it pass their first five years in the profession.
On top of being responsible for how our students perform on standardized tests when they enter classrooms years behind where they are “supposed” to be, most of us regularly take work home, spend money out of our own pockets for classroom supplies and are told that we must take more and more classes in order to be “highly qualified” without increases in our take home pay; people are suggesting that teachers be allowed or even required to carry firearms in the classroom. Really? That would like arming members of the postal service in the 1980’s. The answer is not more guns or less guns. The answers to school/gun violence are deeper than the current media debate will allow.
Teachers want their schools to be safe, but adding another weight for us to bear will only cause more problems. If our nation put their money where their mouth is and funded all of education’s needs, we would be able to combat the achievement gap as well violence. How often when you are overworked are you able to see a problem clearly. Schools need so much, yet legislatures continue to cut funding while demanding that students show improvement regardless of the other factors affecting them. It is really hard to concentrate in class when you have just becomes a mother or your father was sentenced to life. Their reality is so far removed from that of their teachers that they might as well live in another galaxy. Yet, teachers don’t give up.
Beyond that I think about Ms. Apple down the hall with a gun and I am incredible afraid. She is a sweet woman, but the pressures she is currently under are nearly breaking her. She lives for her puppy dog, church and helping others. A simple and blessed life. Peace would not be served by putting a gun in her hand. She would be more likely to make a mistake and shoot herself or worse a student.
I am not anti-gun. They have been a part of my entire life, but they have no part in my classroom life. Nor should they. Instead of telling teachers what to do, how about listening to us. Please.