Arm Me With… (From an educator to the system)

Arm me with the ability to successfully teach; give me a task that is not impossible. Hire me in a position where I really do act as an educator instead of a babysitter or cog in a wheel. Allow me to make decisions and change in education, and take that ability away from people who have never stepped foot in the classroom. Respect me enough to trust my opinion and treat me as a professional. Stop giving us tasks that, at first brim with a tempting frothy hope, but then fade into hopelessness. My heart was so full before I took this job, and now it is simply bitter and angry at the field of education.

Arm the public with information that is real and the tools to determine that. With rhetoric that is true. Discredit articles that do not meet a certain credence or ethos. Because their rhetoric brims with fallacies that echo around and spread into ideas. And we are failing. And the only way to hold to some semblance of hope is to talk and write and change and research and know.

The dogmatic discourse that surrounds articles titled “Ways a Teacher is Preventing School Shootings” or “Seven Simple Ways to Prevent School Shootings” needs to stop immediately. There is no simple solution. There is no solution outside of completely changing a flawed system. You want to know why teachers quit? Look no further. You expect teachers to play a glorified superman when we are already attempting to perform an honestly impossible task. Why is it our responsibility to prevent school shootings when the change must come from every citizen? We are so complacent with school shootings happening that, instead of trying to prevent them, we are willing to not only accept them, but also expect them as a normalcy that requires the militarization of our schools.

You say you want to prevent school shootings? Then give schools the means they need to serve a purpose instead of simply acting as a factory. A prison. You lock both teachers and students inside of a building with little to no freedom. Move only on the bell. Write a pass. Herd the cattle every 55 minutes. Too bad if you need to pee. Too bad if you have bad cramps. Too bad if you’re sore from sitting in six other classes and your brain cannot handle or retain more information. No, I’m so sorry I cannot let you go. No, I cannot answer your question right now. No, you need to be quiet and sit down. I’m sorry, I cannot move you because there are no more seats in my room. I’m sorry, I cannot reach you back there because there are too many bodies in my room. I’m sorry, I cannot help you right now because I am too overwhelmed by the amount of students and work I have right now. Your emotions will have to wait.

How can you consider spending millions on gun training, metal detectors, and bulletproof glass when you cannot even maintain current funding? When you cannot even afford to hire more teachers and lower class sizes. You want to prevent school shootings? Stop asking teachers to stuff 35 students into the corner of a classroom not legally meant to even hold 35 students. Lower class sizes to a point where we can give students the individual help and attention they need so we can identify when they may need help — so we can catch them before they feel so disconnected from humanity that they feel nothing in the context of taking a life. Stop asking us to emotionally connect to our 170 students that we see for 50 minutes at a time, because it’s, quite frankly, impossible to do. Instead of arming teachers with guns, arm us with resources to make the impact required in developing strong citizens that carry with them the ability to think and feel empathy. Provide schools with counselors who are not academic-coaches but life-coaches. Remove the rigidity of standardized tests and grades that eliminate the purpose of education. Allow students to find purpose, instead of feeling as if they are wasting away until graduation. The factory belt that only leads to one place. The perpetuated ideology of letters connected to success or failure in life. Take test. Pass test. Go to college. Take test. Pass test. Go to college. Don’t pass test. Don’t go to college. Fail. Grant us the time to work with these students and also the time to develop a sense of emotional well-being at home so we can carry that positivity to school.

I am terrified of how helpless we all feel in dealing with this. But the militarization of our schools is an ignorant, foolish, and lazy solution that elucidates our fear to address the real problems. We are failing our kids. We are failing our future. The blood is on everyone’s hands here. And the only way to prevent more from spilling is to arm us with the ability to change a culture. To move an ideology.