|Display at a national education conference in Washington DC March, 2016|
The distraction machine I call the demagogue with bad hair ventured into new territory this week by claiming that teachers could ward off assault weapons if they themselves were adept at using firearms.
Teachers unions and prominent educators immediately denounced the idea of arming teachers.
Experienced teachers pointed out that teenage students could be expected to access teachers' guns, dedicated teachers said they would resign rather than be trained for concealed carry, and jokesters responded with a dose of reality about school budgets:
"We should arm teachers."— Adam Burke (@atpburke) February 15, 2018
Really? You guys are gonna start paying for the entire English department to have Glocks? You fuckers won't buy them toner.
But here's the thing. The so-called "troops to teachers" movement has been around for a while, and I think this latest use of school mass killings is intended to hasten its progress.
|Troops to teachers tabling at the Teaching and Learning Conference 2016 in Washington DC|
Public school teachers come in all kinds. Some throw desks when students don't get the answer right. Some teach real history and connect it to current events, and they leave the textbook full of lies gathering dust on the shelves. Many have anger management and substance abuse issues. Some are not really school employees but function as such without being subject to the same certification requirements as actual teachers (for example, Jobs for Maine's Graduates instructors).
Then there's Junior ROTC like they have at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
|Ad created by David Swanson, World Beyond War|
A leading organizer against the militarization of public school, Pat Elder, wrote this excellent analysis of how JROTC functions to replace curriculum and teaching staff for students as young as middle school. Elder reported that, "There are 1,600 American high schools that enroll students in military-run marksmanship programs, teaching children as young as 13 to shoot lethal weapons." He found that the state of Florida
"allows students enrolled in JROTC to satisfy the curricular requirements of physical education, biology, physical science, art, and life management. JROTC is regarded as an Advanced Placement course...Many of these courses are taught by retired enlisted soldiers with no teaching credentials and little or no college education. "Elder subsequently reported on his research about school militarization in an interview with Democracy Now! which you can listen to here.
As a teacher I feel sad about this creeping takeover of the promise once offered by free public education. I don't think it will affect my career much since I'm at the end anyway and the day a pistol packing colleague arrives is the day I head out the door. (Yup, I've had to put up with armed law enforcement in schools from the day I started teaching and no, it really isn't that much different.)
But I worry about how my grandchildren and the other young ones will be affected by public schools that become an arm of the Pentagon, a branch of government that is already gobbling up most available federal funding.
The kids whose parents can afford to send them to progressive private schools will be insulated from the risks of armed teachers if not from armed lunatics who strike regularly at every sort of location.
The kids whose parents are Native people accustomed to a very different model of educating youngsters may be unschooled in greater numbers.
The kids whose parents don't care much for material things may be homeschooled in greater numbers. I may yet get my dream of bartering literacy education for health care in a cooperative arrangement with doctors and dentists who opt out of the public schools. Because I've seen some great homeschooling results -- but I've also seen a homeschooled eight year old that still couldn't read.
My husband, not an educator, has another concern. He points out that veterans have an extremely high rate of attempted and completed suicide, often with a gun. Who will protect our children from that?