Processing My Pain

If I had known when I earned my teaching degree all of the things I would be asked to do beyond the scope of my role as a content specialist, I never would have done it. I’m not afraid of hard work or high standards. Judge me and my competence based on faulty measures in a flawed system. Fine. Teach me CPR and the Heimlich and how to wield an Epipen. Require signage on my door declaring my room a peanut-free zone. Train me to manage the psychoses of mentally ill children: the depressed, the traumatized, the oppositionally-defiant and violent. Fine. Show me the signs of abuse or bullying and make me legally responsible for the well being of all who cross my path. Yes. Fine. Ask me to modify what and how I teach for the physically, mentally and emotionally challenged. Of course. Require me to maintain records and contact with the parents of ninety students every twelve months. No problem.

But today I was asked too much. Today I learned and practiced tactical strategy to thwart an angry or deluded man intent on murder.

Schools are, by design, open spaces with little to no defensive ground. My classroom is designed with glass in the door and a side window large enough for someone to climb through-or poke a weapon through and spray bullets. There are fire doors that open in such a way that they cannot be blocked. We have no tools to break windows. No weapons but our textbooks or a cup of hot coffee to throw in a killer’s face.

I don’t want a sidearm or a Glock under my IEP folder either. Arming me against a nebulous threat isn’t an answer.

It’s not that I don’t like having officially sanctioned permission to run like hell if we come under fire, but I can’t shake the sadness I’m feeling.

In some scenarios, we run; in others we fight and some WILL die. Why is this ok? Why should I just accept this and let society off the hook? It’s too much to ask. Aren’t we in the United States of America–the greatest free nation on Earth?

Am I the only one who thinks this is too much to ask?

My greatest fear is not that I will be in a school that will see an attack like so many schools before us, but that there is a slow acclimatization to preparing a defense against angry or deluded young, white men (with guns and cold-blooded murder on their minds) and it is becoming business as usual.

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