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A school classroom, essential, sacred, and vulnerable to attack

A member of law enforcement walks past crosses bearing the names of Tuesday's shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

She greeted each child but was thinking: ‘What might the day bring?’

Where do we draw the line? When is enough really enough? How many innocents must die before we act?

Four years ago, during the week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., I had such difficulty doing morning duty at the elementary school where I taught. I kept thinking, “How can these parents send their kids to school this week when we can’t assure their safety?” I stood there smiling and greeting each child, but inside I was sick to my stomach. “What might the day bring to our school?”

On Tuesday, Steve Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, had a profoundly angry response to the murders of the last two weeks — murders of Buffalo grocery shoppers, California worshipers, and Texas schoolchildren. He refused to talk about basketball at the typical NBA pregame media event.


But the basketball game still went on. Baseball games were played. Hockey playoffs did not miss a beat.

What if we all protested? No games, no concerts, no celebrations of graduations. Especially in these times that we most value some return to post-pandemic “normalcy.”

What if we went further: No public school, no public transit, stores and businesses shut down until sane laws are legislated to protect us? A stop to all business as usual.

What will force our elected officials to listen to the people and finally do their job?

Barbara Magee


Notebook. Lunch box. Bulletproof vest.

My eldest child starts kindergarten in the fall, and I’m terrified. I just spoke with another mom with a first-grader. She said she went down a rabbit hole Wednesday, including looking into bulletproof vests for kids. We got to talking about how, if gun control legislation is not viable in this country and we have to accept that there are going to be more school shootings, then why aren’t we actually preparing to protect our kids from these events that we know will continue to happen? Asking kids to hide under their desk or in a closet and just wait and hope? It seems like we can do better than that.


Maybe having bulletproof vests in every classroom in this country would be the right course of action at this point. Yes, I’m horrified to be suggesting this, but what’s the alternative?

If we cannot get gun control legislation passed, then let’s at least work to provide funding for bulletproof vests in every classroom. I don’t know what to do about the shootings in grocery stores or churches or movie theaters or places of worship or . . . but for now, for schools, why on earth not?

Abigail Starr


We’re sacrificing our most precious resource: our children

In our gun-worshipping country, we are sacrificing our most precious resource — our children — to a sick culture that places a warped notion of the right to bear arms over the right of kids to learn safely in schools — and to walk out at the end of the day, accompanied by their teachers, alive.

As someone who was a public school teacher for 40 years in Boston, I hold the classroom in high esteem. It is a place where the future of our fragile democracy resides.

I mourn, along with countless others, that this sacred place for our children has become a crucible for warring factions over a manufactured right to gun ownership.


Nancy O’Malley

Alachua, Fla.

The writer is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher.

Texas AG’s response to gun violence in schools? More guns

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton calls for arming teachers to protect the children in their care (“Texas politicians have often highlighted work for gun rights,” Page A7, May 26). Why stop there? Following Paxton’s so-called logic, why not arm the fourth-graders? Surely a classroom full of kids with assault rifles could hold off one intruder.

Or, alternatively, citizens could vote Republicans like Paxton out of office.

Jon Maddox


Victims’ families can’t look away from the horror. Neither should we.

Don’t look away.

That is what I say to everyone who is shocked and distressed about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Whenever there is a school shooting or other mass shooting, we bemoan the horror of it . . . for a day or two. Then we shift our focus; we look away.

Some of us even ask others not to mention it. “Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?” Some of us won’t allow our minds to imagine the carnage.

Imagine happy, excited children gathered in a classroom. Picture them suddenly confused and terrified as a gunman aims a horrifying weapon at them and begins a slaughter that wipes away their smiles and stills their small bodies forever.

Yes, it is gruesome and difficult to think about. It is a horror that victims’ families will carry forever. They cannot look away. If we want mass shootings to stop, we can no longer look away either.

Lorraine A. MacDougall



Some thoughts, from an educator, about the fourth grade

An outpouring of grief will surface regarding the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, and the worldwide press will offer complex discourse. As a public school educator and parent of three public school children, what I can offer are some thoughts about the fourth grade.

The fourth grade is where a love of reading can grow and where mythical heroes can be understood as a proxy for the self. Collaboration can flourish, goals can be set, and a chapter closes on early childhood. It’s a time for managing behaviors and delivering humor with a newfound sense of one’s audience. Fourth grade should be brimming with personalities, smells, and countless hilarity. The stories from fourth-grade classrooms should be gathered in tomes as national treasures.

I don’t have the capacity to imagine the emotional gouging of the affected families. What I do know is that your local public school needs your support. Invest. Volunteer. Celebrate. Advocate. The project of public schools is a collaboration, and you have a role to play. Channel your heartbreak and anger and help your local public schools flourish.

Beth Balliro