So Now They Trust Teachers?

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In the aftermath of yet another school shooting, our national debate has centered around a handful of “solutions” that can be categorized into three groups:

We have the “no guns” crowd (masquerading as the “fewer guns” crowd) who believe that passing a series of laws making it harder for people to buy firearms is the answer.

There’s the “people not guns” contingent who believe we don’t do enough about those with mental health problems and who blame the coarsening of our culture (usually due to those damn videos games and Hollywood movies!) for turning people into unfeeling monsters.

Then we have the “more guns” folks who believe if we just put more weapons in schools then the would-be child killers would stay home or at least shoot up some other densely populated place. They recommend schools hire armed security guards or want laws that allow teachers to pack heat.

I won’t go into all of these proposed solutions, but I must admit to rolling my eyes at those who want to arm teachers. Many of them are the same people who think American education sucks and it’s the fault of lazy, untrustworthy educators.

I’m tempted to shout, “Oh, so now you trust us!” Because they certainly haven’t up to this point.

While politicians may talk about including teachers more, they continue to make policy without asking us. School boards make decisions without our input. Administrators establish policies that betray their true feelings about the people working under them. The treatment of teachers leaves little room for doubt: Most people, inside education and outside of it, think we’re not worthy of trust.

If your school district bans videos or requires you to get permission to show them, it’s because they don’t trust you to use them as instructional tools instead of as time wasters.

If your district requires you to show up when class is not in session to do administrative work, it’s because they don’t trust you to manage your own time and get the work done when and where you want.

If your district tracks the number of sick days you’ve used and levels insinuations, it’s because they don’t trust that you’re using them appropriately.

If your district counts the number of copies you make and makes teachers feel guilty for making them, it’s because they don’t trust you to make decisions about instructional resources (and also because they’re cheap).

If your district provides one-size-fits-all professional development, it’s because they don’t trust teachers to professionally develop themselves if they were simply given paid time to do so.

If your administration requires you to meet in PLCs and collects agendas from those meetings, it’s because they don’t trust you to use the time how you best see fit.

If the threat of evaluations is used to get teachers to use “best practices,” it’s because they’re not trusted to use them on their merits or figure out what works on their own.

If your district requires you to teach a Board-adopted program with strict fidelity, it’s because they don’t think much of your teaching abilities.

If you’re required to adhere to a pacing guide, it’s because you’re not trusted to determine what and how much instruction and practice your students need.

If administrator walkthroughs are evaluative instead of supportive, it’s because you’re not trusted to do your job.

If you need to seek approval before trying anything new, it’s because you’re not trusted to make decisions.

If you’re required to turn in lesson plans, it’s because you’re not trusted to design good lessons or even to follow the prescribed program that lays out all the lessons for you.

What’s baffling is there seems to be little reason for the lack of trust. Most teachers receive high ratings from their principals. In surveys, the public consistently rates teachers as some of the most trustworthy professionals in the workforce. Even students think their teachers are pretty good. The average score for teachers on Ratemyteachers.com is 4.46 out of 5.

So while it might be tempting to think that, when it comes to protecting our students’ lives, politicians have decided that teachers can finally be trusted, you’ll understand my skepticism. You don’t trust me to do my job, but you trust me to handle a gun? How’s that?

The truth is that arming teachers has nothing to do with trusting them. You don’t suddenly hand a firearm to the same people you’ve been micromanaging. It has everything to do with money and a lack of political will to actually address the problems. The reasons some politicians are suggesting we arm teachers is because:

They don’t like spending money on education, and school districts would expect additional funding to hire trained security guards. Little if any additional money is needed to allow teachers to carry their own pieces.
A cynic might suggest that arming teachers is simply another way to sell more guns, which is just what the powerful gun lobby wants.
Such a law would provide convenient scapegoats every time there’s a shooting.

Here’s how you know this isn’t about trust: Because once again, no one has asked teachers what they think about a law that would directly influence them and their students.

But hey, at least if states allow teachers to arm themselves, then when another shooting does happen, politicians won’t have to blame their own inaction, or guns, or inadequate mental health care, or video games. They can blame the teachers, who either weren’t brave enough to fire back or weren’t selfless enough to arm themselves, even though they didn’t want and shouldn’t have that responsibility in the first place.

Then the gutless politicians can point where they’re used to pointing and say, “Well, we shouldn’t have trusted them.”

8 Replies to “So Now They Trust Teachers?”

  1. EXACTLY! 😡😡😡 This article is exactly right! Arming teachers does not solve the problem! The rationale I’ve heard from those in favor of arming teachers say it is a deterrent and then continue to go on to talk about the way things would play out in a gun battle between an intruder and a classroom teacher. Excuse my language, but that is the most complete and utter BULL SHIT I have ever heard! ANY life taken on a school campus due to gun violence is UNACCEPTABLE!

    I’ve been spending my snow days off of school researching the factors in play that lead to these mass shootings. I’ve sat on the phone for an hour with our Congress woman, and went to a local gun shop to interview the owners and some customers on this issue. I’ve also talked with a SRO who has told me their training and research shows the most effective way to keep kids safe in the event of a school shooting is to keep our students in a locked room because the shooter is quickly looking for the unlocked rooms with people inside. They come to a locked door and move to the next door.

    It seems to me our society is grossly skirting the real issue! The people who have absolutely no idea of what it takes to run a classroom or school, and who also think the sure fire way to solve this problem is to ask me to use my personal firearm, or those of my colleagues need to close their mouths and open their ears for a minute! Here is where I found the main problems that need to be fixed! It is NOT adding more guns to the mix! This is what needs to be done:

    #1 STRICTLY ENFORCE THE GUN LAWS THAT ARE ALREADY IN PLACE *STRICTLY*

    #2 THE FED NEEDS TO UPDATE AND ACCURATELY MANAGE THE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM ON POTENTIAL GUN SALES SO THAT *ANY* ENTITY WHO IS INVOLVED WITH THE SALE OF A FIREARM KNOWS EXACTLY WHO THEY ARE SELLING IT TO

    #3 PROVIDE THOSE WHO DESPERATELY NEED IT, ASSISTANCE WITH ACCESS TO HIGH QUALITY MENTAL HEALTH CARE. CREATE LAWS TO MAKE IT MANDATORY FOR IDENTIFIED RED FLAGS.

    #4 SCHOOLS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY NEED TO BE UPDATED WITH SECURITY MEASURES, ASIDE FROM ADDING MORE GUNS INTO THE MIX, AND STAFF HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO FOLLOW THE SAFETY MEASURES.

    #5 COMMUNICATION OF “RED FLAGS” NEEDS TO BE CONSOLIDATED AND TAKEN *SERIOUSLY* BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FBI.

    NONE of these FIVE things involve taking guns away, infringes on the 2A, or puts guns in the hands of our teachers and staff.

    As teachers, our job is to EDUCATE your children. Saying that you need to arm us is a LAZY ass response to what actually needs to be done!

    The POTUS needs to STOP fanning the flames with his insistence of arming teachers NOW!

  2. This is brilliant!! I love this!! You summed up exactly what is wrong with our schools/adminstration.. all the things you listed fit our school system like a glove. They do all of that to us. But no one listens to the veteran teachers, who taught some of the admins and might actually know how to do something. Thank you for this.

  3. Just because I might be an ARMED teacher does not mean I could use it to shoot another human being. If the shooter was a current student, how could I? A former student, would I be able to? Someone I do not know? God forbid I use the gun to defend students then end up injuring one of them? Call me selfish in that I would prefer to defend myself and my students without a gun.

  4. Good list. You forgot to mention the blame it on everyone else and don’t offer any positive solutions crowd; It’s the “Man’s” fault!

  5. Keep living in fantasy land as the culture crumbles. It is precisely the problem that teachers who care not about self-preservation neither societal or personal contribute most to the moral and social decadence of our adolescents today which leads to outbursts of lunacy as witnessed in Florida.

    Why indeed should you be entrusted to protect the lives of your students?

  6. The gun debate (on all sides) is full of false equivalencies, straw men, and other fallacies in logic that most high school debate club members could identify, so I appreciate your focus on the subject of trust instead of running down the various rabbit trails of what passes for political debate–mostly people yelling the equivalent of “I know you are, but what am I” at each other.

    On the subject of trust: I for one, do trust a teacher who chooses to be trained and armed to defend his or her students and fellow staff members. I know this to be true because there are numerous examples of unarmed teachers jumping in front of the gunmen and losing their lives. Voluntarily armed teachers will do the same, but they would also have a chance to save more lives, maybe even their own. Emphasis on voluntary–no one should be forced to carry in defense of anyone, and no district should be forced to implement a policy arming teachers that local staff and parents do not want. What is successfully working in Oklahoma may not be right for Florida, etc.

    Your overall point about school boards and administrators showing a lack of trust is 100% spot on. Truly SPOT ON. Sadly, it’s the norm in public education, and we are losing our veteran teachers every semester because of it. This takes out of the classroom the last group of professionals who have experience with building relationships and engaging students at a time in which student engagement is most important.

    The answer is local, not federal. No policy will change the trust problem. No speech or tragic event. Only local parents and teachers standing up for a new approach, standing up for kicking out the curriculum experts and mandated testing, and standing up for (sigh) trusting the most educated workforce of professionals we have in our communities–teachers.

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