Subject: [SocialistWorker.org] Tec-9's for teachers?
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Comment: Jesse Hagopian
======== TEC-9'S FOR TEACHERS? ===============================================
Jesse Hagopian, a high school history teacher in Seattle, responds to calls
from the right for guns in schools in the wake of the Newtown shooting.
January 3, 2013
CHALK IN one hand and a handgun in the other.
As a high school history teacher with a Masters in Education, I never
imagined some politicians and other cultural "leaders" would be urging me to
add "special forces" to my title.
And yet in response to the tragic mass shooting last week at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince
William) put forward a bill  to the Virginian legislature that would
/require/ some teachers or other school staff to carry concealed weapons in
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said  that teachers with licenses to carry concealed
handguns should have "access to weapons in their school." At least seven
states--Florida, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota
and Tennessee--have lawmakers who have outlined plans to introduce
legislation to allow teachers to carry guns into schools or require several
teachers to be armed in school buildings.
Expectations and extra duties for teachers have piled up in recent years--and
as budget cuts mount, we have increasingly been asked to serve as therapists,
career councilors, janitors, secretaries. But are they really asking us
teachers to take on yet another role? Member of a SWAT team? What's next?
Merit pay for the crack shot on the faculty?
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THE FIRST thing people should know before they propose that Mr. Rambo teach
geometry is that teachers don't get enough sleep to carry loaded weapons to
school. With my 150 students a day, 90 essays to grade per week, dozens of
e-mails from parents to answer, college letters of recommendation to write,
permission slips to sign, curricula to plan, and afterschool tutoring to help
with, sometimes little details can slip through the cracks--like, maybe,
putting the safety on the firearm?
Joining the right-wing bugle call for the militarization of our schools, on
December 21, the National Rifle Association (NRA) broke their week-long
silence on the Newtown massacre by calling for a program to arm and train
guards in schools as the solution to gun violence. Invoking a popular
storyline from Marvel Comics, the NRA's top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said,
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Yet as many have pointed out, there were armed guards at Columbine High
School during the massacre in 1999, and they couldn't stop the two determined
gunmen. Moreover, the calls for more armed security at schools only
reinforces the school-to-prison pipeline pattern of pushing students out of
school and into the criminal justice system. As /Rethinking Schools/ magazine
>As police have set up shop in schools across the country, the definition of
>what is a crime as opposed to a teachable moment has changed in
>extraordinary ways...Early contact with police in schools often sets
>students on a path of alienation, suspension, expulsion and arrests.
>George Galvis, an Oakland, Calif., prison activist and youth organizer,
>described his first experience with police at his school: "I was 11. There
>was a fight, and I got called to the office. The cop punched me in the face.
>I looked at my principal, and he was just standing there, not saying
>anything. That totally broke my trust in school as a place that was safe for
How deep into the Rabbit Hole of Violence has America managed to burrow? Deep
enough so that media as well as multiple governing bodies would allow
gun-lobby shills mainstream platforms that make their dangerous ravings seem
respectable. Maybe even "reasonable."
Deep enough so that ideas like getting weapons into the hands of those tasked
with nurturing our youth--a strategy so Mad Hatter it would be laughed off
the stage or vigorously challenged by the responsible media in any other
civilized country--is pondered seriously by pundits and politicians alike.
And yet the recent calls from politicians for gun control, while refusing to
address the underlying causes of violence in our society, have been appalling
in their own right.
President Obama's plea for a national dialogue about gun violence was
disfigured by cruel irony. At a press conference in the wake of the Newtown
shooting a tearful President Obama said, "As a country, we have been through
this too many times...And we're going to have to come together and take
meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the
Obama's grief was real, and yet so too is the grief of the families of the at
least 176 children who have been killed by U.S. drones  in the name of the
"War on Terror."
As journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote , "Consider this irony: Monday was the
three-year anniversary of President Obama's cruise missile and cluster-bomb
attack on al-Majala in Southern Yemen that ended the lives of 14 women and 21
children : one more child than was killed by the Newtown gunman."
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NEW YORK Mayor Michael Bloomberg's call for gun control  was full of
self-righteousness: "Words alone cannot heal our nation. Only action can do
that. Gun violence is a national epidemic. I demand a plan. The time for talk
Yet Mayor Bloomberg oversees a police force, larger than many country's
standing armies, which has a brutal history of gun violence perpetrated
against African Americans and people of color.
One of the latest examples was unarmed 18-year-old African American Ramarley
Graham , who was shot dead in his own bathroom in front of his grandmother
and 6-year-old brother on February 2 by New York police officer, Richard
Nationally, a recent study revealed that a Black person is killed by police
somewhere in the United States every 36 hours . This unchecked police
terror is robbing families of their children, and yet you won't hear a
politician with the bravery to talk about gun control for trigger-happy
The United States is currently engaged in the longest war in our nation's
history--now having devastated Afghanistan for over 11 years, leaving many
thousands of Afghans dead as well as over 2,000 U.S. soldiers. The nation has
spent hundreds of billions of dollars to occupy Afghanistan, yet every single
elementary school councilor in Seattle last year was laid off for lack of
Any society that is so completely organized around the idea of killing "the
enemy" should not be surprised when some alienated individual redefines the
enemy and commits the kinds of horrendous atrocities that our government
boasts about committing around the world.
The idea of arming my son's preschool teacher as a safety measure is
unspeakably senseless. So, too, is spending more to bomb schools in the
Middle East than to build them at home. If we truly want to work to end
killing sprees, rather than just express outrage over the next one, we must
address underlying causes of violence in our society.
This would require reorganizing our education system and our society away
from its focus dedication to mass incarceration and endless war, and instead
toward collaboration, empathy, and solidarity. A society that marshaled its
resources and rallied its people, not to "kill the enemy," but to provide
health care, housing and education, would produce a very different kind of
We could start by rehiring the elementary school councilors and supporting
kids from a young age who need someone to talk with. By investing in social
programs and education we could prove, indeed, that the stick of chalk is
mightier than the gun.
/First published at Common Dreams /.
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