Friday, March 2, 2018

"They” Want Teachers to Have a GUN, But They Won’t Even Let You __________ (fill in the blank) by Priscilla Sanstead


The words "arming teachers" came careening into the midst of our collective shock and horror as we dealt with the latest mass school shooting.

The country was stunned and grieving about the loss of seventeen lives in Parkland, Florida.

I didn't want to hear about arming teachers. My friends didn't want to hear about arming teachers. The teachers I know did not want to hear about arming teachers. Who are these people who want to arm teachers? The teachers are certainly aware of the risks of loaded guns around children. Who would arming teachers benefit? Who would profit from this? Follow the money. The gun manufacturers and gun safety trainers and gun range owners, and others would profit.

I was not alone in thinking it was a bad idea, for a many reasons.

A gun is a dangerous weapon, even in the hands of highly trained marksmen and women. Would the gun be concealed on the teacher's body? Would the gun be in a locked drawer or cabinet? What kind of gun would it be? Where would the money come from to give these teachers guns? Would teachers buy them? Would taxpayers buy them? Who would buy these guns? And with what money? Taxpayer money for schools is already limited. Teacher salaries are really limited. Teachers already spend their own money just buying the basic necessary classroom supplies.

If I was frustrated, I knew others had to be, so I posted this question in the Badass Teachers Association group on February 21st - “They” Want Teachers to Have a GUN, But They Won’t Even Let You __________ (fill in the blank)".

I threw out a couple of suggestions in parentheses to get the conversation going - ("Have a master key, control the thermostat, etc.").

The thread quickly took off.

Posts from frustrated teachers and parents fell into a few categories:

*Things teacher were "not trusted" to responsibly use or do;
*Things that might be potentially dangerous to students or teachers, or that the insurance company would not like;
*Things that were deemed by school administrators
as too expensive to provide;
*Things teachers weren't even provided with to do their jobs effectively; and
*General issues that involved security and made no sense.

What were the things teachers thought no one assumed they would responsibly use or do or handle?

the key to the supply cabinet,
their own cell phone,
the code to the printer,
the password for the wi-fi,
a potty break,
wearing jeans when appropriate for classroom activities,
control of their room's thermostat,
opening a window,
using the media center,
collecting money for field trips,
changing the ink cartridge,
making copies without a record,
a key to their own classroom,
a key to the staff bathroom or nearby locked bathroom,
a gate key,
an elevator key,
defragging their room's computer,
having a voice about important school issues,
asking a question at a faculty meeting,
talking to their students about walkouts or school shootings,
leaving campus for lunch without signing out, like students can,
get ice from the ice machine,
using tweezers to remove splinters from tiny fingers,
changing the projector bulb,
playing board games with students and "being their friend",
writing their own "end of unit" exams on what they taught.

There were some things mentioned that might be potentially dangerous to students or teachers, or that the insurance company would not like:

locked up peanut snacks (allergy issues, of course, but a locked up GUN would be okay?),
any beverage other than water (slips/falls, allergies?),
a HOT beverage,
extension cords,
staples,
white-out,
a space heater or fan,
hand sanitizer with alcohol,
showing DiCaprio's "Romeo and Juliet" because there is a gun in it,
a microwave/toaster/mini fridge/coffee pot,
bug spray,
a laminator,
using a screwdriver,
having woodworking tools,
scalpels in a science class (but nitric acid is okay?),
using a ladder or step-stool,
an electric pencil sharpener,
pointed scissors for the teacher,
the theatre arts teacher using the stage,
allowing kids to just be kids

*Some things were deemed by school administrators as too expensive to provide for teachers:
enough money to live in their district,
a paycheck that exceeds HUD low income guidelines,
a full-time nurse, not one for 30 minutes a week,
a full-time staff psychologist,
a full-time staff interventionist,
decent medical coverage,
enough desks for all their students,
a heated and cooled classroom,
sub coverage so they can go on field trips they prepared their students for,
a lockable desk or space for their purse and valuables,
a printer in their classroom,
an increase in the number of copies they can make,
more than one dry erase marker at a time,
more than one box of tissues at a time,
soap/toilet paper/paper towels in the bathroom,
more that a few band-aids,
electricity to run the toaster/microwave/mini-fridge/coffee pot,
electricity to light the classroom aquarium/terrarium,
screens on classroom windows they are allowed to open,
blinds on huge, glare-y classroom windows,
a window!
permission to eat snacks (If diabetic, or pregnant and hungry!)

Many things were listed that were no longer provided to teachers by their public school to help them do their jobs effectively:
a classroom of their own,
a manageable class size,
enough textbooks for every student,
enough copy paper,
a key to their classroom that works,
a code for the school's printer and color printer,
planning time,
collaboration time,
a teacher's lounge and time to use it,
a lunch period longer than 20 minutes,
an occasional duty-free lunch period,
time for high-risk students or students with pressing personal issues
General issues that involved security, but made no sense:
classroom doors with no locks or broken locks,
teacher cell phones not allowed,
walkie-talkies not allowed, or broken,
blinds not provided for enormous windows,
too many doors to access classroom buildings,
no time allotted to meet with your high risk or troubled, upset students,
no (or not enough) counselors, psychologists, and/or interventionists.

My question was, "They" want teachers to have a GUN, but they won't even let you ______ (fill in the blank). Over 1,100 comments were posted in answer to my question.

So where are we now? There is little trust in teachers, and little money to provide the basics they need to teach effectively. "They" want teachers to have a gun? Knowing all this, where does that leave the arming teachers gun debate in YOUR mind?

I want to know.
Teachers want to know.
When will we all know?
Is this the reason there is a push to arm teachers? "Thanks To 'Trump Slump,' Shops Have More Guns Than Buyers", NPR - February 27, 2018
_______________________________________________________
The author is the co-founder of The Badass Teachers Association, Inc., a former remedial math adjunct, and a parent activist currently living in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

1 comment:

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