Don’t Arm Me against Your Children — Arm Me with the Power to Teach Them

I’ve been a movement education and dance teacher since 2005. I’ve worked in three different schools, private and public, as well as served on two boards and chaired a major facility finance campaign. In my many hours with kids between the ages of six and eighteen, I’ve learned valuable lessons, the least of which is that our children are our future. Whether you’ve procreated or not, the way we educate American’s kids creates the very foundation of the world you live in. Therefore, what happens in our schools matters to everyone.

I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. No Child Left Behind, Race to The Top, Common Core, Grades vs. No Grades, the rise and fall of Advanced Placement classes, to name a few. I’ve seen my colleagues strive to meet each and every challenge placed before them. They have gone back to school to learn new methods of teaching, have added lockdown drills to their list of regularly scheduled activities and given up lunchtime in order to counsel kids on everything from career choices to cyber bullying.

Teachers are at the front line when it comes to the mental health of our kids. And yet each year less and less money is invested in their work. Their standard of living is falling as their duties rise yet what is our government’s latest suggestion to support them in their important mission? Rather than increase their salaries, improve the buildings they work in, or invest in technologies that could move them into the 21st century, the greatest, latest answer is to arm us with guns AGAINST the very people we have dedicated our lives to teaching.

Are you kidding me? Now, I get that there are plenty of men and women eager to put a gun between themselves and the kids they teach, but honestly folks, take a moment to get over your man-crush on Clint Eastwood to think about what you’re suggesting we do.

I teach dance studies to high schoolers, do you really think I can create a classroom of trust with an AR-15 strapped across my back, let alone dance with the correct form? Honestly, who do you think I am, Lara Croft?

Wait, you have something that’s just the thing?

The perfect accessory for the modern high school dance teacher.

Paired with some yoga leggings and jazz shoes, my classroom really could transform into Tomb Raider. Why not?

I’ll tell you why not. Because your children are dear to me. When they enter my classroom, I ask them to let go and trust me for an hour or two as we work together to create something beautiful, while also challenging ourselves physically, intellectually and emotionally. Your children become my own, and as we move together, we share our lives. They confide in me about sex, drugs, loneliness. They work out their issues as they leap, twirl and fall into one another’s arms. We celebrate birthdays, college acceptances and new driver’s licenses. By the time the year is through, your children have in some way become my own, and I will have their backs for the rest of their lives. Once a student of mine, you are written into my heart forever.

So let me ask you this, has this world become so crazy that I should arm myself against your children?

Should I arm myself against my sons in my own home?

Would you?

Instead of giving us weapons, how about giving us the means to give your kids what they deserve — the best education possible. How about volunteering your time at your local school to help us out? How about paying teachers what you would a software engineer?

In a world where too many homes are broken and too many parents work multiple jobs to make ends meet, teachers have been asked to fill the care-giving gap. We teach your kids reading, writing and arithmetic, but we also teach them so much more. From sex and drug education, to personal finance and “adulting”, to bullying intervention, everyday I see teachers showing kids how to be civil in a world gone mad. I also see them playing hacky sack, taking them for walks, holding them while they cry and teaching them to sing.

Don’t arm us with guns. That’s way too easy. Instead arm us with your time, money and attention. Make responsible gun ownership laws a priority. We are on the front lines — please don’t abandon us in our time of need. Walk out with us on March 14 — it’s only seventeen minutes of your lives. Show up at your community school and lend a hand. Mentor kids who need solid adults in their lives. Donate money to the local PTA. Get involved. Your support means more than you could ever imagine.