I teach 10th grade English at my alma mater high school in Richmond, CA. My students and my job bring me great joy, one that I wouldn’t replace for anything. Every day, I greet them at the door, getting ready for another day of learning. Two weeks ago, teachers in Parkland, Florida did the same and unfortunately, their day was filled with violence and torment.
Over the last few weeks, with the horrible events infesting our schools around the country, I’ve had to consider how I would react, were an active shooter to enter the school community I am a part of. Would I give up my life to save my students? The fact that I would even have to consider that question fills me with anxiety, both in my role as an educator and as a parent. However, as the events that occurred in Parkland, Florida last Wednesday continue to unfold, it is a question that I’ve been reflecting on.
As a parent, I send my daughter off to school every day, and I expect her to make it back home at the end of the day to tell me all about the great things her day consisted of. The thought of a gun getting in the way of that expectation is heartbreaking, to say the least. I find it challenging to even face this reality and discuss the topic with family and friends.
As news of school shootings continue to spread, my initial response is to shield her from the horror occuring in our nation. However, the media that surrounds us is discussing mass school shootings and ridiculous options that attempt to reduce them. The fact is that school shootings are becoming a common occurrence in the US and we, as parents, owe it to our kids to be prepared for a discussion. It is extremely challenging to bring this reality into conversation, being that many educators are still struggling to come to terms with it ourselves.
This country has and continues to actively fail to meet the needs of my students and I. From DACA and deportations, to the recent suggestion to arm teachers to prevent shootings, I am angered and disappointed by the failed “leadership” of the United States. Politicians continue to dance around the issue of gun control, which is easy to do from comfortable offices. I wish they’d spend a day in my classroom and imagine themselves covering my front door, shielding students from bullets. This is a scenario teachers around the US are playing over and over again in their heads, wondering how they would react.
Arming teachers is not the answer, bringing more potential violence into schools is not the answer. Guns do not belong in the classroom. The students of Parkland, Florida deserve for their grief to be met with action and politicians should be working around the clock to prevent such a horrible event from happening again.
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