The 3 problems with arming teachers that no one is talking about
Ever since the Douglas High shooting last month, I’ve seen an uptick in op-ed articles about the concept of arming teachers. Some, from NRA enthusiasts, tend to paint a fantastical picture of a heroic teacher saving the day with his or her own AR-15. Some are from actual teachers (some who are gun owners themselves), talking about how they would feel less safe with a gun in their classroom. Some are from journalists who have never actually set foot in a classroom, and — even though I agree with many of their points — I wish they had bothered to speak with teachers and students who are actually in danger.
I think it’s obvious from my history of leftist, snow-flaky articles, but I’ll state this for the record: I don’t like guns. I understand all the points from both sides. I just don’t like them. So, even though I roll my eyes at far-right gun nuts who claim we want to take their guns away, secretly I totally want to take their guns away.
There are numerous problems with Trump’s bone-headed idea of arming teachers. More guns in a school will make it more likely that a student will get a hold of one. Many teachers aren’t comfortable with being armed. And, here’s the big one: arming teachers will lead to black students being killed by their teachers. Which will lead to yet another “community helper” that is feared by a large population of people. Which will lead to mass school dropouts. Kind of the opposite of what we want in education, right?
But, I’m not here to talk about that. For one, because it veers a bit out of my lane, and for another, I think a lot of people are already thinking and talking about it. What I want to know is what Donald Trump is going to do about these three totally practical issues:
1 Teachers pay for their own supplies.
Is Trump considering offering federal funding for weapons in the classroom? I’m guessing he plans to leave it up to a “personal choice” and funding perhaps at the local level. But, guess what, Trump? I work at a public unified district and I can’t make it halfway through the year without running out of my yearly supply of tissues. So, I have a choice. Either I start really cracking down on tissues, which causes snot to run freely down the faces of my students (which they wipe with a sleeve, which they touch other students with, which gets everyone sick) or I have to buy my own tissue supply after winter break.
So, let me break this down. Because the GOP refuses to stop making sweet, heavily-armed love to the NRA, teachers and students are in constant danger. These are students who are required by law to attend school, and teachers who are paid enough to maybe get an apartment with five other teachers. So, why not make them responsible for buying their own guns, bullets, gun safety lessons, gun maintenance classes, and cleaning kits?
And, yes, I know what you’re saying, future commenters and far-right voices in my head. It’s not the guns, it’s the people … and mental illness … and we love guns! Whatever. To this I will say: people with mental illnesses are far more likely to be the target of gun violence than the perpetrator, and even if some mass shooters are diagnosed with a serious condition, you just took away their health care so fuck you.
In any event, we will find ourselves with teachers having to buy their own gun supplies along with pencils (because god forbid a student ever return a pencil to the pencil box), construction paper and tissues. But, teachers can take that financial hit, right? I mean, many of them are living at the poverty level and you recently took away their tax write-off, but sure, let’s put even more on them. And if they can’t take the hit, fuck it, we don’t really need science do we?
2 Most districts have obsolete technology and supplies to begin with.
So, let’s say Trump does offer a small amount of federal funding for teachers to arm themselves. Again, I work in a district. So I feel fairly confident in saying that this is how it will go: Districts reluctantly agree to arm their teachers, but they don’t have the money to either pay their teachers or buy the best guns. What happens?
I’ll tell you what. Districts end up buying a large supply of what is basically the Apple 2GS of guns. They are old motherfuckers that jam even more than the staff room printer, require constant maintenance (but don’t get them because where the hell is IT/Gun Maintenance when you need them?). Two years after this benevolent gun plan, teachers are pouring their own money into the guns that are now required by some local governments, and the old obsolete guns are locked up in a discarded laptop cabinet with some junky old headphones and broken overhead projectors.
Wait, you’re thinking. What about a gun safe? We don’t have the money for that, a-holes. Oh, should we … take another pay cut then? Alright. We’re used to it.
3 What about professional development?
I hear cranky far-righters complaining about how districts claim they are underfunded only to provide professional development for their teachers. What?! Pay taxpayer money to make sure teachers are prepared to give updated information to our students? What a waste!
But now, in this two years later world in which we’ve got defunct guns scattered in a cabinet with ten-year-old Dell Inspirons, we also have the issue of how to offer professional development in gun safety to teachers. Because, if local governments are going to retain the right to require teachers in some districts to carry, we need to teach them gun safety and make sure they pass a background check, right?
Ugh, what is it with you and your “background checks” and “safety?” I learned to use a gun when I was five, and when I carry it into my classroom (except that I’m not a teacher and haven’t set foot in a classroom in the last twenty years) I know I can … oooops, wait. Shot a student. My bad!
So, the districts need the money for that. Why not take it out of library funding? I’m sure some local hobo can open and run the library just fine. And, besides, why do students need to learn to read? They’ve got teachers with guns to protect them! Reading is for nerds, anyways, am I right?
The sad thing about all of this is: I’m not even exaggerating. This is literally what it’s like to work in a public school district. So, why do we do it? Why do we risk our safety (because apparently working in education is a dangerous profession now), our ability to buy a house (because those pipe cleaners won’t buy themselves and you’re the art teacher now!), and our mental well-being? Because we motherfucking care about KIDS. When will you?
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