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Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts on the Shooting from a Public School Teacher

Posted by on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Like many Americans, some of my friends are teachers. I emailed some of my teacher friends today to find out how they were addressing today's shooting in their classrooms, and to let them know that I adore them for being paid peanuts to potentially act as human shields for thousands of students every day.

Here is one friend's response, which he's allowing me to reprint with the caveat that I not use his name or geographical location for fear of getting his ass fired:

Thanks for the note. I am bummed. I know that sounds like an understatement but I'd rather understate the severe bummage I'm feeling than overstate it, as some politicians in the media seem to be doing today. I've read the words "heart-wrenching," "dark sorrow" and "unavoidable tragedy"—without any mention of gun control. I look at the news pics of those Newtown kids and I see my own kids. Politicians look at them and see a political liability.

So many hearts are going out to that community it's a wonder they're not smothered, and yet legislators are too cowardly to discuss reforms that could actually change the landscape of violence. On days like today, I cynically see my students as sitting ducks. I am a slightly larger sitting duck. And what am I supposed to tell them? "Here is a place that you already hate, filled with math and gym and hormones, and guess what! The odds are small but you might die here because discussing ways to make you safe is deemed 'too political'! Hugs!"

I brought the Newtown shooting up in all of my classes, although I tried to ask them more questions than anything. Like, "Have you heard what happened at that school in Connecticut?" "How does it make you feel?" "Do you have any questions?" It felt like all the students wanted to talk about it but didn't have much to say. Maybe that's the age. I generally ended the discussion by saying, "If you ever feel unsafe in school, either because of a stranger or a classmate, please come see me."

My mother was a teacher for 35 years. She didn't have to lead her students in mass shooting prevention drills. I do. Every year.

[At this point in our email exchange, I sent this teacher a link to my post on our local NRA chapter, where one member suggested that teachers should be allowed to carry guns in school.]

HOLY FUCKING CHRIST. I bet that asshole was home schooled in a gun closet.

Kids steal anything that isn't nailed down in my classroom. In this school year alone, I've "lost": 2 staplers, 12 whiteboard markers, 1 globe, 1 map, 1 copy of The Color Purple, 3 boxes of staples, countless pens and pencils, an apple, my deskplate, and a years' supply of tacks. If I yawned long enough, these kids would pluck the fillings right out of my mouth and this guy thinks I should have a GUN in the CLASSROOM? Where the fuck would I securely keep a gun? Because I'm sure as shit not packing one on my person. and even if teachers are allowed to carry guns, then what? We're all supposed to take marksmanship classes to learn how to shoot the damn things? How is this anything but a cheap way of turning teachers into unsworn police officers?

No. No. No. Teachers teach. Police officers police. And legislators are supposed to legislate. Maybe instead of trying to add to the burden of my jobs, legislators should take a crack at doing theirs.

 

Comments (27) RSS

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Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 1
"I bet that asshole was home schooled."

Hearing teachers spew mindless hate at things they don't understand is one thing that drives a lot of parents to home schooling.

Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on December 14, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
2
This teacher does not get paid enough.
Posted by gnarly on December 14, 2012 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 3
I was in a high school all day today in a Seattle suburb. The faculty was never officially informed of the shooting (I have no idea what discussions the administration had). I only heard about it second-hand in the faculty lunch room. None of the students ever mentioned it all day, and I didn't bring it up either. I'm sure most of my students will hear about it later, but it was a complete non-issue at this particular school today. So my experience was completely different than the teacher you talked to.

But I will agree with them about arming teachers. That is just about the stupidest idea I can think of. And I say that as a veteran with firearms training. I would not want to be armed in school. Adding guns to the school environment is insane.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on December 14, 2012 at 4:46 PM · Report this
4
Hey #1. Wow. That was the least important part of the exchange regarding actual dead children. Pick your battles.
Posted by Homeschooled to death on December 14, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 5
@4

Sorry, but even very sweet teachers can think like bullies. They look for easy targets to pick on, to blame. Here we're seeing that once again. We have a school shooting and some teacher wants to drag in their favorite boogeyman, home schooling, to blame for attitudes they disagree with. People who were home schooled are a tiny minority, only a percent or two at most. No matter how wrongheaded they are (and there's no evidence the are any more wrong than the rest of us) there's no reason to blame the state of America on them. Blame the 99% who went to regular schools for the state of the country. Maybe even think about blaming the teachers who educated that 99%.

You have to always stand up to bullies. Never just let it go. "Pick your battles" is another way of saying, "Accept the status quo. Don't question my authority."
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on December 14, 2012 at 5:03 PM · Report this
6
@5 Ad hominem attacks are pointless and childish, agreed. However acknowledging that doesn't make the rest of her argument disappear. There is something very wrong in this society when "give teachers deadly weapons" is ever seen as a solution for anything.
Posted by digitalwitch on December 14, 2012 at 5:18 PM · Report this
7
I don't like arming teachers for the same reason I hate the idea of the cockpit gun locker, all it does is paint a big wet shiny target...

Clearly what we need to be doing is getting SWAT Team Snipers to spend long hours stationed in the drop ceilings...
Posted by Not Soon Enough on December 14, 2012 at 5:23 PM · Report this
Dougsf 8
#1 - "I bet that asshole was home schooled in a gun safe." There was a joke in that sentence. If you want to home school your kids—fine, but please teach them reading comprehension.
Posted by Dougsf on December 14, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this
9
@3: Arming students is the stupidest thing I can think of.
Posted by tiktok on December 14, 2012 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 10
@9, I will concede your point.

Arming teachers is the second stupidest thing I can think of.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on December 14, 2012 at 5:56 PM · Report this
11
Home schooled in a gun closet is not a dig at home schooling. It's a dig at the folks who home school to brain wash their kids without any reality counter-balancing it. Not all home schoolers do this, but people who try to do this home school. Cults, freaky mountain militia types, like that. Don't get your home schooled panties in a twist over it.
Posted by charlie on December 14, 2012 at 7:35 PM · Report this
12
@11 - it's not a dig at home schooling. It's a dig at gun crazy lunatics. Sheesh. How do you create a gun crazy lunatic? You raise him literally in a gun closet and never let him out. So he'd have to, by default, be homeschooled.

And even so, everyone knows home schooled kids are weird anyway. It's usually just creepy religious weird or super-hippy weird. Never met a normal one yet and they are chock-a-block around here.
Posted by gnot on December 14, 2012 at 7:46 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 13
@ 5, no. "Pick your battles" is a way of saying "focus on what's important and let go of what isn't."

Heat-of-the-moment reactions should not be judged by the same standards as well-crafted policy positions. Granted, it's likely that this teacher doesn't have much respect for home schooling, but given how poorly parents do as teachers in the home, that's understood.

This wasn't a case of bullying. That word is officially in danger of being overused to the point of losing its meaning. Don't contribute to that.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 14, 2012 at 8:03 PM · Report this
14
You've done first rate work today, Cienna. Thank you.
Posted by gloomy gus on December 14, 2012 at 9:00 PM · Report this
15
Amen, brother! I am done being a lame-ass, silent Dem - it is time to demand an end to this ridiculous allowance of the kinds of guns which only have the purpose of KILLIING people. Would that little idiot in Portland have killed anyone if he was not able to lay his hands on a military-style weapon? HIGHLY unlikely.
Posted by Trish in Portland on December 14, 2012 at 9:31 PM · Report this
16
"Teachers teach. Police officers police. And legislators are supposed to legislate."

I think this gets at a really good point. The argument of "more guns makes us safer" rests on the idea that every one of us at any given moment should be able to use deadly force if necessary to protect our safety. Um, no. That is why we have police. Society is built so that we do not all individually have to defend ourselves against threats to our lives. I like that society. Let's make that work more efficiently please.
Posted by Nitidiuscula on December 14, 2012 at 9:59 PM · Report this
17
Is anyone finding something missing in the coverage?

The victims. Their families.

Seems like they are already summing it up and talking only about the survivors and acts of bravery.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on December 14, 2012 at 10:15 PM · Report this
18
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
Way to take a quote out of context. He said "...home schooled IN A GUN CABINET." That last qualifier is important because it makes the distinction about the TYPE of home schooling. I don't know if YOU are home-schooled but, if you are, then your Fox News-esque inability to comprehend, or quote, a full sentence in context is why people look down on home schooling.
Posted by Whateverdude on December 15, 2012 at 5:18 AM · Report this
19
@17 Bro, the families you speak of don't want to fucking comment and even Brian Williams last night said the media is being very delicate with the families and totally leaving them alone. No news there. Killer apparently dead. Now all we have to go on is "why" and how. The speculation is ours for now.
Posted by ortolan on December 15, 2012 at 7:49 AM · Report this
20
"I've read the words "heart-wrenching," "dark sorrow" and "unavoidable tragedy"—without any mention of gun control."
Me too, except for front page of NYT, Washington Post, Associated Press, and every other major news outlet.
Posted by Billy Chav on December 15, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 21
@13

"Given how poorly parents do as teachers in the home"? Given? No, that's not given at all. The data say that home schooled kids don't do poorly at all.

If there were data saying that, it would be trivially easy to ban home schooling. We're talking about a tiny minority. If the data were against it, they'd have no chance.

It's no different than gay parents: if there were a shred of data saying gays made worse parents, it would be easy to ban gay adoption. There aren't enough of them to force an untenable idea on the majority.

Both gays and home schoolers have more than enough enemies who would be happy to use anything they could against them. In both cases, the majority has no choice but to recognize facts.

But on the Internet you can live in a bubble and believe any damn thing you like.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on December 15, 2012 at 2:47 PM · Report this
22
Ha! He was home schooled. And his mom did have a gun collection and they went shooting regularly.
Posted by gnot on December 15, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
23
I completly agree with your friend. I'm a teacher as well and when I heard the guy say teachers should carry, I couldn't even believe it. More guns is not the answer.
Posted by MsBeal on December 15, 2012 at 4:41 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 24
@12

Except all of these killers from, Columbine to today, went to school. None of them were home schooled. None of them were even from "cults, freaky mountain militia types" or anything like that. They came from "normal" homes. Whatever the source of their madness, school was not the cure.

If you wanted to make wild, hotheaded assumptions about whom to blame, it would make a lot more sense to blame the schools all these shooters came out of, if anything. Or more generally, there must be something wrong with what passes for "normal" life in America today, because these killers lived normal lives.

It would be easy to to just get rid of home schooling, or get rid of all the cults, or all the militias. Crack down on a tiny sliver of society. Problem solved. It would demand nothing of the other 95% of society. But it's not that easy: the solution is gun control and comprehensive mental health care, and that means change from top to bottom and across America.

Stop picking on fringe minorities and take a look in the mirror.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on December 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Report this
25
Hmm... 20 odd kids and teachers killed by a lone gunman is huge news. If it had been 20 kids and teachers killed as collateral damage as a result of a drone attack in Afghanistan, ordered by the POTUS if wouldn't even have made the news. The POTUS has killed more women and kids in the last 4 years with drone attacks than those killed in Connetticut. Bless the children. Convict the criminals.
Posted by tresdedos on December 15, 2012 at 10:33 PM · Report this
26
Hmm... 20 odd kids and teachers killed by a lone gunman is huge news. If it had been 20 kids and teachers killed as collateral damage as a result of a drone attack in Afghanistan, ordered by the POTUS if wouldn't even have made the news. 176 children have been killed in US drone attacks since 2004. 22 children per year for the last eight years. Bless the children. Stop the killing. Convict the murderer in the International Court.
Posted by tresdedos on December 15, 2012 at 10:47 PM · Report this
27
I was home schooled for my elementary years and graduated with honors when I was 17. It makes me feel like I think more out of the box than others which may not be such a bad thing. With all due respect people are going to attack with or without stricter gun regulations. Faced with a problem, what's your solution? To regulate guns, lol. Like it or not those teachers are going to have to learn to fight back if they want to survive. That's just the reality. You may not like it but there's no other way. I wouldn't be such a WUS and who leaves a gun lying around the classroom like a stapler? Oh yeah, apparently this teacher wouldn't be able to come up with an idea to make it work. I mean guess making guns stricter and having some illegal might work! Heck, meth and heroine are regulated and illegal too. We never see that on the street. Lol It may be uncomfortable but teachers just might have to start working hard at coming to terms with defense and survivalism. Blaming guns is too easy. Look deeper and embrace the reality of the situation at hand.
Posted by jgrast on December 17, 2012 at 11:58 PM · Report this

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