Monday, October 16, 2006

Arming our teachers

In light of the school shootings which have seemed to spread like the plague the past few weeks, there has been much consideration regarding arming our teachers, very much in the way we keep an armed Air Marshal on many of our flights now. Utah is doing just that:

More than a dozen teachers and public school employees will spend part of their UEA weekend in a classroom — learning how to use a gun.

Clark Aposhian is offering a free class today to public school employees seeking to get their concealed- weapons permit.

"It is self-defense," he told the Deseret Morning News on Thursday. "But because teachers and school administrators and custodians are typically surrounded by students all day, any threat to any individual with a firearm would also be a threat to those students."

The concealed-weapons instructor's offer was met with opposition from some teachers and union representatives at the Utah Education Association's conference in Salt Lake City.

"We've always resisted the idea of arming school employees," said Susan Kuziak, executive director of the 18,000-member teachers union. "Though the intentions may be good, ultimately, the potential for harm is too great."

The intent is pretty clear:
"A shooter going in there may pause to reflect," he said. "Because they may find a teacher carrying a firearm for self-defense."

But I'm not convinced that the outcome will be quite as successful.

I'm going to act like a liberal for a minute...I'm going to rant and complain about how the current policy (or the policy being developed) isn't good, but I'm going to pose absoluely ZERO alternatives. REady? Here we go:

I do not like the idea of arming our teachers. Frankly it scares me. Although this may come as a shock to some, there are teachers out there that aren't nice people, that shouldn't be allowed to have readily accessible weapons with them at all time, that frankly, I wouldn't trust with a sling-shot made from a rubber band. Aside from the potential for a deranged looney-tune teacher, aren't we transforming teachers from what they're supposed to be (compforting, knowledgable, trustworthy role-models) to rigid armed gaurds? That is just not their place.

I also do not like the talk about chaining our school doors shut, putting 8' tall security fences with razor wire on the top around our schools and having armed gaurds at the front door. School is supposed to be a comfortable place. Now I understand that one cannot be comfortable if he feels threatened that at any moment a psychopath could walk through the front door and start mowing down students, but I do not think any student will feel any better if he is forced to sit in a classroom surounded by razor wire, as if he is in some sort of high security prison. That's just not acceptable.

Many schools (particularly high schools) already have armed officer of the law on campus most if not all of the time. There is talk of expanding that program. That could be the best method.

Like I said, I'm not really looking to offer any real alternatives--I'm acting like a liberal and refusing to do so, but I did want to get that little rant off my chest.

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At 3:17 AM, Blogger Ek Umeed said...

I too abhor people presenting problems without providing solutions. So, I will tell you what I believe: I think the solution to the problem of school shootings lies in educating school children about the dangers of bringing firearms to schools and also monitoring the emotional health of children at school through mandated counseling at various checkpoints throughout the school semesters. (Though even now school health counselors are available to students, most of them do not see students until the students themselves voluntarily come to them.) Honestly, I think the prevalence of this problem exists due to schools often underestimating the negative influence on children of exposure to all kinds of violence that has been glamorized by almost all media and communication avenue comprising of movies, television dramas, video games, comic books, Internet videos, young adult novels, etc. Schools also often fail to address the lack of cohesiveness and community within the student body; they "turn the other way" so-to-speak towards observances of lack of acceptance in general and harassment by peers of some students, stopping only long enough to note all of it as part of the high school experience. However, I think it is of utmost importance that schools realize that this gross misinterpretation of "what is high school experience" contributes to the harassed students feeling neglected, marginalized, and helpless; they feel that the administration and school system meant to protect them instead failed them. So, I think this mentality of students needs to be addressed. And you know what's worse? Even when schools realize that this problem exists due to harassment or emotional health problems, they often overlook the problem because most schools have a big population of students and budgetary issues which do not allow them to hire full-time counselors that would only oversee this specific aspect of keeping students emotionally healthy or at least keep tabs on the goings-on at school and talk to the students at the receiving end of the abuse. (And my reference is directed towards public schools, since I do not know much of how private schools operate.)

Well, honestly, I believe that school shootings are a serious matter and deserve contemplation in terms of solutions. However, I do not believe arming teachers is the answer to the problem of school shootings. Though I am not of the opinion that others might have on the issue, I strongly feel that any action or inaction must be thought through thoroughly in this matter.

And Jeff, I do not think the idea of presenting problems without solutions is unique to liberals; I think it is specific to all people (as part and parcel of human nature), although I do observe all politicians engaging in this futility most often.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Well, I certainly appreciate you posing some possible solutions, though I do not agree with any of them.

Firstly, I totally and completely reject any idea that violent movies, books or video games some how teaches us to shoot, kill, rape, mame or otherwise defile and harm any other human beings--students or other wise. Further more, I reject the idea that we need mandatory counseling. I would NOT have gone to meet with a 'mandatory counselor.' So what if we get a student like me who doesn't want to meet with their counselor at their given time? Are they given a detention? Are they labelled with some psychological tag that explains the problem? No. I think counseling and pyschological labels provide excuses, not solutions, for actions.

(Another thing important to note--the Amish school shootings were not carried out by a disgruntled student who watched too many violent movies or who didn't have access to a counselor. They were undergone by a random man who showed up, walked in and committed the horrible action. Where does this plan address the potential for a problem like this?)

To continue, I think a there is a "healthy" level of 'harassment.' Is that to say that beating on people or relentlessly "picking on them" is ok? No. But kids need to learn how to handle these sorts of things. Have an uber extreme administration which is going to stop in stop any sort of picking, harassing or whatever we label it is just crazy. Aside from the fact that the principal would spend his entire day saying, "stop that, don't do that. don't pick on him. he's normal. she doens't look like a toad. don't bother other kids" thus taking from his daily responsibilities--what a boring place to go to school. Where will the line be drawn between what is clearly joking and what is marginally harassment. Again, too, we must consider that it was not a harrassed student who showed up in Lancaster and killed those Amish kids.

Finally liberalism. Certainly all are guilty of posing problems and complaining about them without actually posing any solutions. However, the libs in Washington are far more guilty of it than any other group of people I know. I recently attended a debate between Shelly Moore-Capito and Mike Callaghan who are running for WV's 2nd congressional seat. Mr. Callaghan was asked about the war--he said, "it's a huge problem. No doubt. I don't have a solution. I don't think one exists." Then there is the health care issues: democrats constently complain that health care is failing, but they never offer a solution. They don't like Git-Mo and our retention of detainees, but when asked what else we should do with the enemy combatants, they suddenly lose their hearing and fail to address the situation. This doesn't really have too much to do with the article itself, but I still thought it noteworthy.


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