Grading Papers and Nailing Perps

Okay kids, today we're going to look at this picture and find something that doesn't belong in it.  (Image from panhandlepost.com)
Okay kids, today we’re going to look at this picture and find something that doesn’t belong in it. (Image from panhandlepost.com)

I just read a fairly preachy post on Facebook.  It was written by a “friend”.  I would not have classified him as a friend in the traditional sense of the word, but in Facebook parlance, people are either your friend or they aren’t.

In any case, the guy wrote about how putting armed police in every school could be an expensive option, and offered the alternative prospect of arming teachers.

I prefaced where I read the post, because I don’t want anyone to think that I got started on this thought process by going to the websites of political parties or special interest groups.  I certainly did not find this topic by reading the news, which I can’t really bear to do lately.  I make no apologies for not keeping abreast of a nation’s heartache; as a rational adult, I know all I need to right now and choose not to saturate my brain with the minutiae of every sickeningly painful detail, as reported ad nauseum by each and every news outlet.

I hoped that my “friend” was a lone voice and that he wasn’t just echoing the thoughts of someone with a broader audience than Facebook.  Somehow I doubted it.  A quick Google search proved my instincts correct.  An elected official in Washington State is pushing for teachers to have the right to carry weapons into the classroom.  Where would we be without some lawmaker telling us how to fight fire with firepower, or as I like to put it, fight crazy with insanity?

I feel I have a fair amount of first hand experience with schools and with teachers.  I attended public schools for kindergarten then twelve more years before moving on to several universities where I earned multiple degrees.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve worked in schools.  I’ve dealt with every type of school employee from custodians to superintendents and many, many teachers in between.  I’ve dealt with new-graduate teachers and tenured, published PhD’s.  I’ve dealt with a lot of students as well.  My exposure to homicidal maniacs has been much more limited.

I am not a teacher.  I am not in the teachers’ union.  My father was a teacher, as were some of the most influential, important people in my life.  I admit that I’ve also dealt with a few teachers who were inept, sad examples of their profession.  Sitting here in my kitchen, I can’t think of a single one of those educators who I could imagine carrying a gun in the classroom.

In recent years, public school teachers in many states have wrestled with taxpayers and politicians over merit-based pay, benefits and tenure.  Apparently in the halls of power of at least one state, the argument has now switched as to whether or not to arm teachers.

Let’s take a moment to review: Elected officials and taxpayers can’t decide what a teacher’s work is worth, or how to determine if they are even effective at performing their jobs, but you’d like them to carry firearms?!  OK, just wanted to make sure I heard that right.

On a side note, law enforcement professionals routinely carry guns.  In many states they face the same scrutiny of pay and benefit issues which teachers do.  Unlike teachers, they enter their chosen profession knowing their duties may invlove the use of deadly force.  As a profession which has a fair amount of power in its armed authority, police training is designed to help weed out candidates who are unsuitable for the responsibilities of the job.  Despite the careful screening, history has shown us that sometimes the wrong people get badges and guns anyway.

Teachers’ challenges managing kids are pretty well documented.  In addition to teaching the three R’s, they are often called upon to teach kids things which would traditionally be taught at home and only reinforced in school.  Things like respect, being able to tell right from wrong and the basics of ethical behavior.  There have also been more than a few complaints about children in the U.S. falling behind their counterparts elsewhere in the world.  Tacking on the additional responsibility of acting as an armed guard just doesn’t strike me as a particularly effective way of improving overall job performance.

Owning and being capable of using a firearm is strong stuff.  Despite walking this planet for over 50 years, I have yet to find it necessary to even hold a gun, let alone carry one to work.  The first part of my personal rationale for not owning a firearm is that I don’t think I need one.  I believe, perhaps foolishly, that I can use other personal attributes to avoid gunplay.  Like a teacher, I’m convinced that I can use my knowledge and ability to communicate.  The other part of my rationale is that owning a gun would somehow reduce my belief in the  first part of my rationale.

In my opinion, a teacher who wants to bring a gun to school, has to accept the same thought, on some level.

The horror in Connecticut has dominated the news, but it is not an isolated case of senseless violence.  Two innocent people were killed by a shooter in a mall near Portland, Oregon.  Two volunteer firefighters were killed and others seriously injured by a sniper in New York who set fire to his home and car strictly to draw the firemen into his line of fire.

If the logic for arming teachers holds water, then it’s only fair that Foot Locker employees and firefighters are also encouraged to pack heat.  I’m sure that if one analyzed the data for victims of gun violence nationwide, it would be difficult to find a demographic which wouldn’t qualify for carrying a gun.

I know Facebook is filled with people who pop in photos of puppies or little quips about how annoyed they are with the weather without giving it a second thought.  One would hope they would stop and think before proposing something as controversial and fundamentally absurd as arming teachers.  As for state lawmakers making the same proposals, I’m at a loss for words, finally.

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52 thoughts on “Grading Papers and Nailing Perps

  1. It’s such an exhausting subject and I love your thoughts on how we can’t figure out what a teacher is worth, but let’s arm them. It just makes no sense and if we stoop to that level then your right every profession should carry. Good and well thought out post.

  2. Amen. I’d say more but that would be preaching to the choir! I am so glad, however, to see someone else who sees the stupidity in arming teachers.

    1. I don’t know about brilliant, but perhaps I’m able to express myself so eloquently because my teachers spent their weekends taking continuing education courses and getting advanced degrees instead of going to the range…

  3. I agree with Carrie,,being in Canada and also a Canadian that lived in the states for 5 years,,I really can’t wrap my mind about the ideas that some people have about gun and laws.
    Yes it says in the your Constitutional Amendment that you have the right to bear arms. But Amendments are just that Amendments, which mean’s they can be changed thru the process of government.
    I’m sure your fore fathers when writing this did not intend for our schools, teachers or whack job killers be armed.
    I have deleted dear friends from Fb because of some of their ideas on guns, and how we should protect our children. I believe that if you feel the need to protect your family in your home, then yes get a hand gun that is locked beside your bed. But,,no one needs military arsenal.

    K,,,i’m getting of my milk crate!

    1. I’m going to tread carefully around the subject of the modern misinterpretation of old documents. I think every old document from the constitution to the bible suffers from modern misinterpretation. Oops, that wasn’t very careful treading.

  4. I think that arming the teachers is one of the dumbest ideas ever. When you have to deal as much stress as some teachers do, a loaded gun is the last thing in your desk. Once a few cases of teachers shooting their own students occur (and it’s only a question of when, not if), the same gun nuts will probably scream that we should be arming the students, too.

      1. I wouldn’t want to repeat what you say. My point is that it’s not just teachers who can’t control their urges, it’s everyone. But adding a loaded gun to that equation will makes things worse more often than it makes them better.

  5. The thought of arming teachers is all quite alien to us here in the UK, when our cops don’t even all carry guns! Obviously we do have some shootings over here because criminals will always be able to get hold of guns if they really want to, but the comparison stats speak for the themselves.

  6. I’m going to use that same philosophy with the kid who throws things at other kids and give everybody in the class a couple of rocks. That should work out just as well, right?

      1. I actually had to get off of Facebook for a little bit following that tragedy. “Friends” can be insane and opinions…dear lord. Someone actually suggested giving just the gym teachers guns…considering my son’s gym teacher reeked of booze on back to school night, I was’t really feeling that suggestion.

        1. I had a similar experience on FB after the Conn. tragedy. A
          “friend” posted something to the effect that the lack of prayer in school was a factor in the carnage. I posted something contrary to that opinion and was immediately electronically ostracized by friends of the friend. I deleted my comment and stayed away for a while.

  7. Yes. There should be a term for the tendency to solve the wrong problem, and that’s what this proposal does.

    I also find it ironic that movies and TV shows are rated G and PG but we want to turn childhood into an R rated movie.

    1. Rating Alert!

      We need to protect the kids from sex! Let them see guns, but hide the boobies. I still recall the outrage over Janet Jackson’s boob slip during the SuperBowl halftime show.

      oops…off topic…

      1. Don’t get me started. Let me get this straight. Boobs in cafes/grocery stores/board meetings are OK if they are being used for their intended purpose. Nanosecond boob flashes are a global threat to the tender psyches of children. I guess there is a logic in that thinking that also seems to crop up in other areas of national debate come to think of it.

  8. As a UKer, I can’t begin to understand the issue of your gun laws, but I can say a resounding ‘NO’ at the idea of arming teachers. What an insane idea. As you pointed out, the profession of teaching is hard enough without adding guns to the mix.

    I guess we are fortunate in our small country that gun crimes are a minority. But I am fed up of the media blaming games and movies for such henious acts, my son (who is now 22) played such games and watched such movies and he didn’t turn out bad. He quite easily learned the difference between reality and make believe.

    But hey, happy new year. 🙂

    1. The whole video game and violent TV argument just doesn’t hold water. The are millions upon millions of kids and adults who watch and play without ever dreaming of picking up a gun.

      I’m going to keep from delving any further into my opinions on all of this – but I couldn’t let the prospect of armed teachers slip by without comment.

  9. Great post. As I am ex-Army, I’ve been handled and trained on weapons and it’s been an argument I’ve had with myself for years. Even properly trained individuals are no match for the suicidal, homicidal deranged individual who is armed to the teeth and has planned his/her assault for days, even months.
    There are few situations where more guns make things better and in many cases, people act more aggressive when armed, contributing to more injuries and fatalities.
    I love my daughter’s teachers and they have a great many skills. I don’t think marksmanship should be one of them.

  10. Media influences everyone that participates in their mainly negative, biased coverage. Last month, I decided to give up on all cable TV. Now I watch NPR, PBS and sometimes CNN on the Net. Convinced others in my community to do the same. Why waste the time and money for coverage that just pollutes your mind.

    Your article was well-written. Enjoyed reading your logical perspective because you, unlike most, make sense. Thank you.
    Rob

  11. As a former educator, the idea of guns in the school or classroom appalls me. Schools are supposed to be places of learning, nurturing and mentoring. While children need to be made aware of the dangers they may face in daily life, what kind of example can be made by a gun-toting teacher? What sort of education and life example can children receive in an atmosphere of fear and paranoia? What kind of adults will they turn out to be? What example will they set for their children? Guns in school is wrong, wrong wrong.

    Now don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against guns. We have six in our household. All of them hunting weapons. No automatic this or that, all of them single shot, with the exception of the .22, which has a 5+1 clip. The guns are stored in a locked closet with trigger locks. The ammunition is in a separate, locked cupboard in a different part of the house. In order to obtain these weapons, I had to go through the whole onerous process Canadians have to go through. Owning a gun in Canada is not a right, although in some parts, it is a necessity. Owning a gun is a responsibility. Putting guns in schools is insane.

    1. I agree completely with you. I don’t actually own any guns, and I’m not likely to get one. I live secure in the knowledge that if I did own a gun, I would have shot my dog by now.

      I usually keep my stuff on the lighter side, but the Facebook post scared me that perhaps voices of reason were in short supply.

      In any case, I’m glad you read and presumably enjoyed the post. Feel free to check back when I’m back to my usual sarcastic witty self.

  12. I agree completely. I am currently getting my Master’s Degree in Education, and I would never, ever, ever carry a firearm to school. Teachers (unlike police) are not equipped to use guns. There are so many volatile students in schools that having guns accessible to teachers (which may be used as solutions in “knee-jerk” reactions when a student is being aggressive) is going to lead to many unnecessary deaths.

    Cheers to you,

    1. Thanks for the positive words. I usually avoid writing about the outrageously stupid ideas of others, as I prefer my own. Still, I couldn’t resist.

      It appears Ohio has its own brand of crazy, which involves arming the janitors. I’d write a post about it, but all the good mop jokes have already been taken.

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