January 9, 2013

Teachers Don't Need Guns

While there are no words to express how the whole country wishes that the tragedy in Sandy Hook had never happened, the National Rifle Association did not ease my fears as a teacher in an elementary school when they suggested putting an armed guard in front of every school. This does not protect my students from what is harming them every day. This does not help me or these children sleep better at night. 

This county can’t afford resources and staff in school. My district had to cut our teachers' aides, and we can’t afford to hire more special education teachers, even though we need them. The state can’t afford safer foster living environments or boarding homes for at-risk kids, but the NRA still offered an expensive solution to hire a guy with a gun to stand in front of the school every day. According to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." 

If you need one more reason to be afraid of horrible things that happen rarely, the NRA is great at giving you one; so I feel like it’s only fair if teachers get to speak up and tell you all the other things you should be afraid of, too.

The NRA’s idea to bring guns into schools is one that benefits them and makes us fearful of something that has happened one time. Yet, there was an armed guard at Columbine, and he was unable to prevent that horrific day. If you ask teachers, many would be terrified of the troubled students who are already threatening our lives and other students' lives daily by having access to a gun. The kids who already lunge at us, throw chairs, and who already have lunged at police off of the school campus. If the NRA is calling for the federal government to step in, then so am I. There are many bad guys threatening our students every day.  If we are to give them what the NRA referred to as “the greatest level of protection,” then we need to make the education of young students our biggest priority by dealing with the bad guys teachers fight off every day.

Every week is a battle against the bad guys who are getting in the way of my students having a safe and wonderful place to learn each day. My students meet bad guys more often then most people know. Sometimes the bad guy is whoever is responsible for taking staff out of our schools so the students have to fight for attention because we have to increase class sizes. Other times, the bad guy is the family that I had to send a child home to after they were removed from their foster home. Having no other options due to funding, the state had to place a student back in a home where an abuser was living because the state can’t afford more safe homes for children. This year, the bad guy was also the school district, when teachers had to cut out a reading program (among many other resources we needed) that was successful at helping struggling readers, because it was too expensive. Another bad guy I encountered this week was a situation when one child kept bullying another child, and when his parents were called in, they thought it was funny and said nothing when their child tried to kick the principal in front of them. 

Let’s stand up and protect our children from the bad guys that endanger our students every day. The teachers are already fighting this fight, and we desperately need some backup.