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Armed Teachers? Not In My Classroom
Dec 26, 2012
In response to the school shooting in Connecticut, Rep. Betty Olson of Prairie City and Rep.-Elect Scott Craig of Rapid City have suggested passing a law to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry firearms in school.
If you want an armed teacher, I'm not the right teacher for your school district. I choose to teach like Gandhi, King, and Jesus, not Wayne, Willis, Schwarzenegger. I reject the call to "Arm the teachers, in the meantime bulletproof the kids," because such a cry is based on a desire to sell product, not educate children:
Studies have shown that highly visible efforts to increase school safety, such as cameras and armed guards, decrease students’ feelings of security, said Eric Rossen, a clinical psychologist and administrator at the National Association of School Psychologists. That’s another risk with bulletproof backpacks, he said. Children who don’t feel safe also don’t feel connected or understood, ultimately undermining their ability to learn and to form trusting relationships, he said [Caitlin Dewey, "Since Newtown School Shootings, Sales of Kids’ Bulletproof Backpacks Soar," Washington Post, 2012.12.20].
Folks who want me to carry a gun in my classroom are asking me to gamble on the "payoff" of the one-in-a-million event of an armed attack on my classroom at the cost of the daily psychic damage of the gun on my hip saying to kids, "We're not safe. Be afraid." I don't gamble in general, because I understand that the house always wins, but at least in Deadwood, there's some entertainment value in gambling.
I get the distinct impression that calls for guns in the classroom aren't based on a desperate desire to protect children's safety at all costs. They seem based on a desire to turn schools, one of the safest, most peaceful places in the community, into an affirmation of gun worship.
Schools can protect children better by making them feel loved and connected. Yet our schools pass policies that prohibit teachers from hugging kids or contacting them on social media. We fear our teachers' expressions of caring, but we encourage expressions of fear and aggression.
If Rep. Betty Olson and Rep. Scott Craig toss their "arm the teachers" bills in the hopper, I will go to Pierre. I will testify before committee with my usual enthusiasm and exaggerated hand gestures. The staid members of the committee will watch my spectacle, think, "We want to put guns in this guy's hands?" and quickly kill those bills... as well they ought.
I'll do my part to keep guns out of our schools. Legislators, help me out. Let teachers be symbols of peace and civil society, not fear and isolation.
Editor's Note: Cory Heidelberger is our political columnist from the left. For a right-wing perspective on politics, please look for columns by Dr. Ken Blanchard every other Monday on this site.
Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.