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.