You canʼt get them to bother with abstract reading comprehension if theyʼre afraid of imminent death! Oh, and by the way, Iʼm not exactly at my best either! My lesson plans arenʼt going to win any awards when the best solution our legislators can come up with is giving me a loaded pistol to keep in my desk drawer! Well, Yippee Ki Yay! Iʼm a teacher! Pew! Pew! My 7 th grade students are literally frightened that going to school on any given day may lead to the end of their lives. Every couple of weeks on the news itʼs another school shooting and another body count, while lawmakers do nothing to ensure it wonʼt happen again tomorrow. Every few days, itʼs a rumor about this or that troubled kid we all know snapping and throwing a gun in his backpack. Or itʼs an anonymous threat scrawled on a wall or a social media page. Today it was teaching classes where half the kids were missing because their parents held them out of school afraid a vague rumor of imminent violence was true. And as I tried to assure those who did show up that everything was okay, law enforcement checked the lockers with K-9 police dogs looking for weapons or drugs. What the heck are we coming to? I work in a police state and my students are being asked to learn in a penitentiary. And the teachers should get guns. And the principals should get guns. And the parents should get guns.And the guns should get little tinier guns to protect themselves from even more guns! This is madness. Weʼre begging for a political solution but our political system is a shambles. Nothing puts that in starker contrast than the gun debate.The overwhelming majority of Americans want sensible gun laws – an assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole, mental health screenings, etc.If we lived in an authentic Democratic Republic, weʼd have them. But we donʼt, because we live in a plutocracy. One industry has enough power and influence that the only solution our policymakers can safely suggest is one that increases that same industryʼs bottom line.
Itʼs like Tony the Tiger suggesting the only cure for obesity is to eat more Frosted Flakes! Theyʼre Ggggrrrreeeaaaattt! A teacherʼs job is hard enough without society crumbling all around us. But that doesnʼt mean the children arenʼt learning.Theyʼre watching the world burn with wide eyes. Theyʼre taking in every flame, every bullet hole, every cowardly senator, representative and chief executive. Theyʼre watching and taking names.At the end of the year, policymakers will wag their fingers at the nationʼs teachers about failing standardized test scores. Theyʼll bemoan sinking academic standards, powerful labor unions and a lack of moral fiber as the cause of a generation of children who lost out on an education while cowering under bulletproof backpacks. But this generation refuses to be lost. Despite everything, theyʼve left a trail of breadcrumbs back to sanity. They are emotionally damaged by a country that no longer functions, but they know the truth.They know whoʼs responsible. And they know what to do about it. When they reject our society, weʼll know why. Because the next generation will be nothing like us. And on a day like today, thatʼs the most hopeful thought I can offer. Editorʼs Note: This article first appeared at the blog, Gadfly on the Wall, and is used with the authorʼs permission. Be sure to check out Steven Singerʼs book, Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform