Students should not live with the threat of being targets of a school shooter, but that is the horrible reality of today and they have every right to worry. Students are developing anxiety, not if a school shooting will happen in their school, but when it will happen.
Too many schools already have thwarted potential threats and regularly practice lockdown drills, but even when you do everything right, school shootings like the one that happened in Parkland, Florida and others, do happen. School administrators and politicians are scrambling to find solutions after hearing the heartbreaking outcries of victims who want gun control, but gun control is not on the minds of most politicians.
There is currently a bill that is being pushed through Alabama state legislature to arm teachers in classrooms. First, as a high school teacher, let me tell you that educators do not get paid enough to get into gunfights with school shooters. Arming teachers is a convoluted solution and it is the wrong one.
In addition, there are plenty of burnt-out, underpaid, stressed-out and disrespected teachers in the United States. I have even seen viral videos of teachers who lost their professionalism, mentally broke down while in the classroom, and some even physically assaulted students. This past November, an Atlanta physics teacher threatened to put a bullet through a student’s head. Now add that almost half of the states in the United States have Stand Your Ground Laws. What is to stop a teacher who has lost it from shooting a student in alleged self-defense? Absolutely nothing. They “felt threatened.” The Stand Your Ground Law goes into effect and your child is gone, dead. Killed by your child’s teacher.
Research has shown that Black children are too often viewed as adults, and their behaviors are often misunderstood by white teachers as unruly. In addition, Black students are disciplined disproportionately more than white students, and now they want to arm teachers.
Adding more resource officers is not the answer either. The more police you add to schools, the higher the arrest rates will be for teen-things that adolescents have gotten away with for decades. The same minor things that you may have been scolded for in high school, now your child has a prison record for it or if they are lucky, they will end up only with juvenile detention. “From suspensions to arrests, Black students are more likely to be disciplined in U.S. public schools than white students.” Privatized prisons ensure that Black males get longer prison sentences for minor offenses, which provide free labor for corporations. It seems that our children are being set-up as resources for this prison pipeline.
“…how can they find money to purchase guns but not school supplies and textbooks?”
Installing metal detectors is not an easy solution either. Schools should not be prisons. Environments have a way of influencing our behavior and humans are excellent at acting according to the environment they are in. Make schools feel like a prison and more students will act like criminals. Besides, there is no evidence that metal detectors prevent school violence.
Lastly, you cannot hide anything from students. They find everything and are extremely resourceful. What if they find the teacher’s gun or break into the provided gun safe? You have just given a weapon to a potential school shooter. I am not against guns. I am against weapons meant for war. Arming a teacher with a handgun against an AR-15 assault weapon, a human killing machine that can shoot 45-bullets a minute, is a suicide mission. Are they providing ballistic wear for teachers too? And if the answer is yes, how can they find money to purchase guns but not school supplies and textbooks? I beg for classroom materials and necessary equipment! What kind of backwards world are we living in? I am not interested in getting into a gunfight with a school shooter. Teachers did not sign-up for that! There is a huge teacher shortage and schools will lose good educators who went to school to teach children, and not to be cops. You as a parent should be concerned about sending your child into an armed classroom. Your voice needs to be heard and you must be loud. Now is the time!
The true answer is simpler than all of the above, restrict war weapons. It does not matter how much a person likes a gun or how much money is put into politicians’ pockets from the NRA, which is another problem that needs to be addressed. It does matter that other types of war weapons are restricted. It does matter that our children are terrified at school. It matters. Their lives matter.
Janice Robinson-Celeste is a businesswoman, journalist, author, school teacher, entrepreneur, mother, grandmother and is one of the original founders of Successful Black Parenting magazine. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, is a published author of two parenting books, Pride & Joy by Simon & Schuster and Making A Supermodel: A Parents’ Guide. Janice has a degree in Early Childhood Education and holds and a master’s degree in business. Formerly, the School Age Child Care (SACC) Coordinator for the Philadelphia area with the non-profit organization, Parents Union for Public Schools, she developed SACC programs throughout the city. She headed a $2m YMCA where she served as the Executive Branch Director in charge of operations for a new facility, including the NAEYC accredited child care program and summer camp. In addition, Janice held the title of Early Childhood Specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Child Guidance Center where she worked with parents who struggled with substance abuse challenges to guide them with the healthy development of their young children. Janice was also a preschool teacher and currently teaches high school. She also taught higher education at Hofstra University in New York. She is the mother of three successful adult daughters, including international supermodel, Sessilee Lopez.