The longer I write these articles, the more inclined I become to share stories of a deeply personal nature. This is one such story that I rarely speak of. During this horrific time of renewed debate as it regards arming teachers to protect their students against school shootings, it‘s time to be smart and consider a harsh hypothesis:
I suggest that the majority of our teachers are psychologically ill-equipped to handle the responsibility.
I taught special education for nearly 11 years. My population consisted primarily of substance abusers and gang members. During my last year in the profession, well over a decade ago, I was assaulted by a student. He was a smart kid, and a class leader. He also stood about six feet tall, and was in great shape at slightly over 200 pounds.
I’m 5’8. At the time I was in shape as well. I had just run my first LA Marathon, and felt at the top of my game both personally and professionally. However, my confidence, and my physical conditioning, would prove to be moot points in the context of what followed.
My student had issues with drugs and alcohol. And fighting. He was consistently fighting, and had been suspended more than once.
One day, in the classroom, he told me to shut up. He didn’t ask; he told me. He stood from his seat, and started pacing back and forth. He asked the other students to stand and back off; as one they stood against the wall. He asked a student to block the door. The student complied.
Imagine what was going through my mind at that moment.
He again told me to shut up. I asked him to sit down. He took my desk, tried to flip it, walked to my side and slugged me in the jaw.
I stood up, and immediately said, “I’m pressing charges.” He tried to slug me again, but a crisis interventionist managed to get in the room and grab him.
The student who blocked the door told me after the incident that he went out and got the guy. When he was asked to block the door, he took advantage to help me.
About 30 minutes later, I sat in the cop car with the student who assaulted me. He was sobbing, and apologetic. He said, “Of all people I can’t believe I did that to you.”
This student and I had a bond. I had him pegged as a leader early, and I tried my best throughout the year to work with him to enhance that quality. He acknowledged as much. I told him I forgive him, but the charges will remain.
Here’s how I really felt. I wanted to kick his ass. Seriously. I‘m a fighter by nature; I was ready to go. But I had control. I don’t believe everybody would have. If the crisis interventionist did not come in, I may well have defended myself.
And that’s the point. Teachers are human. Arming teachers with guns is a sure recipe for disaster. I doubt that the majority of teachers would be able to psychologically handle it. As my brother said, “Can you imagine Randi (his wife, and a teacher) with a gun? Me neither.”
It will never happen, nor should it. Armed guards, sure. Metal detectors, sure.
Teachers? Hell no.
For those who believe more guns would help, you really need to look at the psychological factor here. I‘ve never even held one, and I don’t feel like I’ve lost out.
So why is the psychological component so continually ignored in this debate? No one who argues the cause, regardless of political affiliation, celebrates a new school shooting. Most seem to mean well. And those who argue about arming teachers do not understand the dynamic of running a classroom. They do not understand the psychological tug of war when it comes to wanting even the most difficult of students to succeed, regardless of your personal feelings toward them.
But, more importantly, they simply do not seem to grasp the emotions of being a teacher. No one gets into the profession for the money. Teachers are never paid enough.
It’s time to be smart. You want armed guards? Fine. Metal detectors? Fine.
Never ask for a teacher to be put into a position to where they are responsible for pulling a trigger on a student. Arming an educator doesn’t solve this scourge. There would be far too many psychological conflicts there, and the average teacher would be vulnerable to a stronger child.
Suggestions: California has a no-questions-asked gun buyback program, which has substantially curbed gang-related shootings in the state. Common sense gun laws need to be enacted. No one is aiming to take guns from hunters. No one is aiming to take away your second amendment protections.
A teacher, though, is trained to educate. Allow them to focus on their jobs, and let’s pressure those decision-makers who can help curtail this issue. Neither “prayers” nor “best thoughts” will end this. Today, someone on the no-fly zone can easily purchase an automatic weapon. Gun shows are particularly known for their ease of access. Gun sales increase exponentially after every school shooting.
A year ago, Donald J. Trump overturned Obama’s bill regarding mental illness-related background checks for prospective gun purchasers, and yet he addressed the nation the day after the latest school shooting discussing mental health.
Some countries arm their teachers. We are not capable here. If you want to send your student to a military zone every morning, please do so. Outside of the United States, several countries at war do exactly this, both outside and inside childrens’ schools.
I prefer my wars, and my Wild West, on television.
Thank you for reading.