“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It can not be changed without changing our thinking” – Albert Einstein
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead
No one truly understands what happens in the day to day life of an educator. What we observe, the hope we have for students that sometimes goes unanswered despite our best efforts, and the resulting stress from observing the mental health issues of students while feeling like we truly have no-one to turn to. Then when we do turn to mental health facilities, we typically have an understanding of “the system” available within our communities. Limited, struggling, under funded, not fully staffed, and the knowledge that the real outcome will generally be a momentary band-aid. The infrastructures are generally so weak, that sometimes – if you are lucky – an observation period of 72 hours occurs until the child/adult student is released again. Only for it to spiral out again at some point in the future. These are the children that slip through the cracks to become the adults we are all concerned about as a society.
Yet, despite of all this – I have very mixed emotions at the efforts being pushed forward in the legislature for Florida teachers to bring guns in the classroom. I am disheartened to realize there has been very little conversation or observation of the voices this would potentially effect most. In fact, it is clear to all who are watching, the students who have the strongest voice and are asking to be listened too are in fact being ignored, patronized or worse yet, slandered in some fashion. There have been no true “listening” sessions and as a result, while students should be focusing on the coming of spring breaks, proms, and other general student affairs, they are instead organizing rallies and national walkouts across the country in support of stronger gun laws. They are presenting a change to the politicians they say have failed to protect them. They are the students who are calling attention to school safety and asking lawmakers to enact gun control. However, I am beyond sad to see none of that occurring and in fact, House Judiciary committee members voted 11-7 to pass HB1097. The very bill that would designate teachers having the ability to arm themselves with a gun. This proposal would allow principals to designate one or several school employees to carry concealed weapons on campus at all times. The person would have to complete 40 hours of classroom training and would have to undergo firearm training each year…yet I can’t imagine the cost of that training? Personally, I would prefer that money be put towards the actual preventative measures that could avoid children becoming the adults that we are so reactionary towards! How about we follow through on gun reform, better school mental-health counseling services, tracking systems and attempting to create a society where students can learn without worry. I am listening to the nearly adult students and it is clear to me this is what they are asking for. We always say they are our future and for once our future is speaking loud and clear and are we listening?
Maybe what I am saying won’t be popular yet many school boards and administrators are opposed to the bill. I also know many educators will be afraid to speak their truth for fear of a backlash from the public, parents or school board members. I also know Principals could decline having guns on a campus but there again, this potentially creates a divide among the community where the high school may reside as it could make Principals fearful of appearing as though they don’t support teachers having the “right and fair chance to defend their schools” if there was a threat. Yet maybe that isn’t how we need to defend a school. Maybe educators, administrators and Principals believe it sends the wrong message to the students and fear the worst could happen with a gun on a campus beyond that of a school resource officer.
I know the face of education is changing yet I can’t help but feel it wasn’t meant to be a change like this. Everything about my make-up as a person, caregiver, nurturer, promoter of youth, educator and mother screams this is intuitively wrong. I understand that what often happens is that, regardless of our best intentions and hard work, we try to control our circumstances by using our limited beliefs and old patterns. We think we need to try to take charge of the situation, reacting on fear based thinking. But this is not the answer! Instead we need to have faith based answers by allowing ourselves to truly listen. So maybe we could just listen to the voice of our future and be open to their ideas and thoughts. Surely there is a compromise here somewhere and until we come to that place…I continue to stand with the students.Go in love,