Thursday, October 15, 2015

Nobody Wants to Talk About This. I Mean Nobody.

Is This Coming to a School Near You? What's Anyone Doing About It? 


 The other night I took a walk with Nora the Border Terrier behind our local Primary school, known to Eden folk as "The G.L.P."  I peeked in the back window admiring the hallway's color coded blocks of lockers, the spotlessly polished shiny floor, the banners of good character traits hanging every 30 feet. And maybe I'm getting old, going soft, losing it, who knows cause I don't think like this but it struck me that there's really nothing preventing our own little G.L.P. from being another Sandy Hook. Not really. It's that unholy thought you push away or at least I do because there's nothing to do with it once you allow it into the room. Then you're stuck with it and everything you cherish suddenly seems so fragile, so tenuous and nearly impossible to protect and hold onto. In a word you're vulnerable and I can't think of too many feelings I hate more than vulnerability. 

As teachers it struck me standing there that we face a strangely subtle yet outrageously lethal workplace environment in 2015. The reality is none of us knows where the next one will happen but we are sure, based on what we've seen since Columbine put school shootings on the map, that we are going to see another one. Give that a minute. We all know there is going to be another school shooting somewhere. We know it. No debate. No ifs ands buts or maybes. There is going to be another one. And when it happens we'll read again about fellow teachers who performed heroically and who lost their lives when they went to work that morning planning to teach kids. We may read about heroic kids who went to school that morning looking forward to gym class or practice after school or sitting next to someone of interest in study hall and ended up dying instead. We try not to imagine the horror of these kids' parents in getting the news no parent can bear. But it's going to happen. And when it does we will all imagine what we'd have done, how we'd have reacted, which students we'd have been able to shield and which we weren't. And we'll feel helpless, hopeless and afraid. How many times have I done this in my head now? How many times have you? Why are we still doing it? Why hasn't anyone done anything to stop it? 

Somehow the fact that this peculiarly American phenomenon occurs in our workplaces more than anyone else's just doesn't seem to make much of a difference.It's not even an issue that bears discussion. Nobody talks about teaching being a profession that includes the possibility of being killed at work by gunfire. Cops, yes, bounty hunters, maybe. Teachers? Naaah.  

On a more global scale I have to ask why neither of our two largest teacher unions seems to have anything to say about protecting teachers in their workplace from deranged heavily armed murderers who want to kill us and our students. Both AFT and NEA have recently made fraudulent endorsements of Hillary Clinton for President in 2016 by skewing the caucuses they needed to pretend the membership supported the endorsements. I am thinking now that maybe before teacher unions go endorsing anyone for anything we need to hear what we are going to get in return. Did Hillary promise to protect teachers from being killed in their workplaces? Did she say she's aware of the outrageous inevitability of school shootings and she is going to be the President who figures out a way to end mass school killings? Did she promise to work to limit the availability of semi-automatic weaponry and keep it out of the hands of anyone who could lend it, sell it or have it stolen from them to see it used in a mass killing in a school somewhere?

I didn't hear Randi or Lily mention any of that. I've never even heard them address what's such a ridiculously huge elephant in the classroom that it should be talked about any time union business is done. We know they aren't going to fight Common Core even though teachers see it for the disreputable garbage it is. We know they are doing practically nothing to fight high stakes testing and the use of unreliable invalid test scores in teacher evaluations. We know these things from experience and observation. And we know these two don't represent the people who pay their fat salaries. If you want further proof go look at the comment section on AFT's Hillary endorsement video. 

The Democratic debate the other night avoided education like it was the Ebola Virus. Nobody went anywhere near it. And within the topic of education is another glaringly outrageous topic that nobody is in any hurry to address: teachers getting killed at work by gunfire. If our unions aren't going to protect our livelihoods from ed reform poachers and their test and punish regimen maybe they can aspire to a higher calling and do something about protecting our lives instead. I'm not holding my breath either but I believe it's about time someone put it in Randi and Lily's laps and said Deal with It! 

7 comments:

  1. Excellent point. Every inch of my room has been scoured to identify hiding places for children of all sizes.

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  2. I have two "walls" of glass. I have no where to hide. I have no place to put my 25 plus students where they would be safe. So I pray I never have to deal with this. We can be seen from the hall above, the room next door and the hallway outside my room. We are sitting ducks. But hey, lets practice that we CAN HIDE AND BE SAFE. Just like hiding under our desks in the 60's and 70's was going to protect us from nuclear attack.

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    1. It strikes me as an exercise in futility and nothing more than a way of writing something down on a sheet of paper to create the illusion that someone actually took action. It's all bullshit and it plays into the narrative of helplessness and the general belief that there's nothing you can do.

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  3. As always, great blog post Sean!

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  4. I happen to hear a LOT of talk about school shootings. Admittedly, some of it is outrageous (ie arming principals and teachers). Although I agree with the flawed and premature process of national teacher unions' endorsement of HRC, attacking this peculiarly American problem goes way beyond electing the "right" president or hoping for better union leadership. It will take an enormous societal shift in our attitudes towards, guns, violence, raising boys, racism, etc. I disagree with the article's premise that this change needs to be fostered by national leadership. We need to come together as a community and attack problems from the bottom-up. Standing on the sidelines complaining about national leaders got us where we are today....

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    1. The fact that you support a top down endorsement from Weingarten that had zero input from rank and file tells me all I need to know and I have nothing more to say to you on pretty much any topic as I am pretty sure you don't think for yourself so there's no sense bothering with an argument.

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  5. I teach in a building where I have to open my door to lock it from the outside with a key.

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