Last week I posted in response to the violence we have seen in schools recently. We know it is multiple things that are causing these conditions to be present, but no ones willing to step up and take care of anything. Government is protecting the guns because those are the contributions electing them into office and mental health is has a stigma to it that makes people recoil from talking about it. While all this is has a role in violence, there is one more part I wanted to discuss.
I am an educator. I work with high school students and have developed relationships with quite a few of them. I have seen them grow, change, and become adults who have control over their lives. They are all good kids. They may have their problems, but under everything they are good kids.
What I didn’t say last week and what I want to say this week is I work in a school district that has lived through a school shooting. I was not around at the time since it was 30 years ago, but we were one of the first districts in the nation to go through this kind of tragedy. You can read about it in the two articles I have linked below, so I won’t go into any details.
This is not something that comes up very often in our district partly because it was so long ago, but you can still evidence of it in the district. The school that the shooting happened in, is not a intermediate school and has gone through several renovations in the last 30 years. In the last one, they were removing some lockers and you could still see the bullet holes in the wall. There is a memorial behind the school to Principal James McGee, who as the only person killed in the shooting.
At the time, this shooting actually helped make significant changes in the way juveniles are tried in our state by lowering the age someone can be tried as an adult from 16 to 14. This is not something any school district wants to go through, but despite everything that has happened, life goes on, and no matter how rough it is, we have to go on with it.
As an educator, I do not go to school worrying about my life. We have drills to prepare for the worst, but in the day to day running of things, we do not think about what could happen. I go to school, and worry about the students who’s not going to pass his math test, or the students who needs just a little more help to get a passing grade. The idea of a school shooting is not even in the back of my mind. Could it happen, yes. Will it happen, the chances are unlikely.
So, what now? This week there has been a lot of talk about arming teachers. I am very against this idea, as are most of my colleagues. We did not get into the profession to carry guns. We got into the profession because we knew kids needed us. We have a special gift that enables us to empower kids through learning. The day I have to start carrying a gun is the day I leave the profession. I will not do it.
Last week I did not have any answers to any of the questions surrounding this topic, and this week has not changed that, but I do know arming teachers are not the answer. There is so much that can go wrong, and I can only think of a handful of people in my current school that I would even trust to have a gun. But this cannot be the solution. There has to be another answer.
I wanted to share one of the best TED Talks I have seen. This is by Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold, who was a shooter at Columbine shooter. Since the death of her son, she has become an advocate for mental health issues in the US.
We know that we have to take care of our children. We know we have to learn from the past. We know a lot, but can we take what we know and make the changes we need for the future. Let’s make the change together.