Stop, for a second, to consider the job teachers are already doing
I am blessed to have a career in education. I work with preservice teachers — informally known as student teachers — and teachers in their early years in the classroom. Watching the news, I cannot believe the idea that teachers should be armed in schools (“Teachers renounce Trump’s call to arms,” Page A1, Feb. 23). The job of teaching is holistically challenging: intellectually (teachers have to know their content); pedagogically (they have to know how to teach to all students); morally (they have to be aware of the social justice aspects of teaching and meet all student learning needs); physically (it’s really exhausting — ask any teacher); and spiritually, since you teach who you are (if you arrive at school tired, stressed, or upset, your students’ learning may be influenced).
Those who have not worked in a real classroom really have no idea of the comprehensive nature of teaching. When I hear the suggestion that teachers — those responsible for the growth and development of students of all ages — should be armed, I think: Are you kidding me? This is an outrageous and contextually absurd mandate for teachers. It’s an insult to what teachers do.
‘Get down!’ (class is in session)
Here are some of the educational benefits of President Trump’s plan for school safety.
A shooter enters the school.
Lesson 1: post-traumatic stress disorder. The armed teacher tells the students that they will never sleep well because they are about to witness their teacher killing a human being. They will see how bullets destroy a body. They will watch a person die.
Lesson 2: biology. The students will see blood and bone and tissue sprayed into their classroom.
Lesson 3: physics. The teacher tells the students to put on their eye and ear protection because the sound of the gun will permanently damage their hearing, and the pieces of flying debris might permanently damage their eyesight.
Lesson 4: horror. The students will exit their classroom through the wreckage of a human being.
Lesson 5: deadly confusion. Let’s see what happens when the police arrive to find two or more adults shooting at each other.
Lesson 6: political cowardice. The teacher explains that the students’ sanity and their classmates’ lives have been sold for votes.
How far do we take armed response?
Shootings at schools — arm the teachers?
Shootings at movie theaters — arm the ushers?
Shootings at nightclubs — arm the bartender?
Shootings at restaurants — arm the waitstaff?
Shootings at malls — arm the store clerks?
Shootings at church — arm the pastor?
Shootings at work — arm the workers?
Shootings everywhere — arm everyone?
Do more for students’ mental health
We need to change gun control laws, but that is only part of the problem. If we change gun control laws without doing anything for mental health, it would be like taking cars away from people with drinking problems. It would solve the immediate issue but would not delve deeper into why it happened.
Our school system needs to put a lot more emphasis on helping kids who have unaddressed mental disorders. If those kids are cared for at an early age, they would have a much better chance at a nonviolent future.
One way to address this is to enact social and emotional learning, a method promoted by Scarlett Lewis, who lost her son, Jesse, in the Sandy Hook shooting. This would help establish healthy ways to deal with emotions and others around you.
Until the National Rifle Association can come to its senses and loosen its rein on Congress, we have to change the way American schools deal with mental health.
The writer is a student at North Kingstown High School.