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Tag: school shootings

Arming teachers?

I’m no longer an active classroom teacher, so you might wonder if I even have a right  to weigh in on the question of arming teachers to prevent school shootings. However, as a second-generation teacher, I have strong opinions on the subject.

And I’m strongly against it.

Let me be really clear on that. I stand with the teachers’ associations who’ve come out against the idea with a pretty unanimous voice. If you want to read a really snarky voice that totally tells it like it is, check out this reality checkbut don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In my recent studies of police, their tactics, and their approaches to security, I’ve learned nothing that contradicts this opinion. Most police don’t want teachers armed, either. Why not? Well, consider this dilemma:

People don’t know how they’ll react in an emergency. Police understand this. They train and train–but the real thing is disorienting. And the questions that arise are not easy.

With all due respect to Mr. Trump, running into a dangerous situation (especially untrained and unarmed) would simply increase the confusion. There are enough problems when personnel are both armed and trained.

Remember Fort Hood? Remember how that went down?

There’s also the mundane but very real problem of liability. If your school district’s insurance rates suddenly shoot up the moment they arm the teachers in the classrooms–in today’s climate of austere budgets–what responsible superintendent would move forward with the idea?

For me and for a great many other teachers, the idea that armed teachers are a credible deterrent to school shooters is ludicrous. It’s not where our heads are at. Shoot to kill a student or former student? Are you crazy?

Most of us would still be standing between him and the rest of the class, trying to “talk him down,” till the bitter end. If you’ll recall, “between the shooter and the class” is where a great many teachers have been killed.

There are always a few who defy the generalizations. But let me assure you, “crossfire” is a real thing, teachers’ unquenchable faith that students can be reached is a real thing, and in general, the unwisdom of arming classroom teachers as a deterrent to schools shootings, is ALSO a very, VERY real thing.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Me.Me for the “which one is the bad guy?” photo, and to The Progressive Cynic for the image that references the Ft. Hood shooting.


A month ago today on February 14, 2018, one of the deadliest mass school shootings occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, USA. Along with a lot of my compatriots, I braced myself for the usual round of reactions, because this is very far from a situation without precedent in my homeland. My fellow Americans and I knew what always seems to come next.

People evacuate Stoneman Douglas High School in the wake of the shooting Feb. 14, 2018, in this Getty Images photo by Joe Raedle

The dismay, the grief, the outrage.

The thoughts and prayers.

The talk about “maybe this time–finally–things will be different.”

The calls for gun control (knowing nothing will probably happen).

The calls for better mental health care (unfunded, of course).

The arguments about good guys versus bad guys that have never yet seemed rooted in practical reality to me.

The legislative attempts that no one can get quite enough people behind, to pass.

The “must pass” bills that accrue amendments like barnacles. then sink under their weight.

The gradual subsidence into the previous status quo.

This 2013 cartoon by Jeffrey Koterba of the Omaha World-Herald is just as right-on in 2018–except as of Feburary the child is standing up to demand change.

Except this time something different happened. The surviving students of Stoneman Douglas High School didn’t wait for the adults to figure it out. They stood up and said, “#ENOUGH.” They walked out in protest. They went to the state capitol and demanded change.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School decided to take direct action into their own hands.

They stood together. They stood strong. And pretty soon other kids stood with them. In spite of some administrators’ threats to punish them, students all over the country began to stand up and say “we’re tired of being targets while you adults argue!

March 7, 2018 student protests at the Minnesota state capitol in Mankato–AP Photo by Jim Mone.
Pittsfield, MA students from Taconic High School march on Feb. 27, 2018 in solidarity with the students of Stoneman Douglas High School–photo by Gillian JonesBerkshire Eagle via AP.

Today, on the one-month anniversary of the shooting, students from all over the country will walk out of class in solidarity with the Stoneman Douglas students–including students from our local Kansas City area schools–most with the (wise) blessing of their administrators. So far the legislative responses have been mixed, but as a former high school journalism teacher I am here to tell you that experiences like this don’t soon fade from a young person’s memory.

And even though some of the kids on these protest marches are currently too young to vote, I’m willing to bet they won’t forget this experience once they are old enough. If I were a sitting legislator, I’d be taking note of that.

IMAGES: Many thanks to NPR, Steve InskeepGetty Images, and Joe Raedle for the photo of students evacuating Stoneman Douglas High after the attack on Feb. 14; to Politic365 and Jeffrey Koterba of the Omaha World-Herald for the cartoon; to CNN for the photo of Stoneman Douglas students protesting; to the Mankato Free PressAP images, and Jim Mone, for the photo of the student protest in Mankato, MN; to (Advance Local/Alabama Media Group), The Berkshire EagleAP Images, and Gillian Jones for the photo of Taconic High School students marching in Pittsfield, MA on Feb. 27, 2018 in solidarity with the Florida students; 

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