In the news yesterday was a story about the Harrold, Texas school district, which will allow its teachers to carry concealed firearms "to deter and protect against school shootings when classes begin next month." As an educator, I am shocked and disappointed. Schools have long been gun-free zones, and the group behind the decision to allow teachers to come to school packing heat suggests that this is the cause of some of the school shootings with which we are all too familiar. Funny, I don't remember any of the disturbed teens referencing this federal policy as the reason behind their rampages. I do remember kids who clearly had serious problems that went unnoticed or just avoided. The story says that the district researched other options. I wonder what those might have been? Has the Harrold, Texas school district already maximized its security efforts with guards and metal detectors? Has the district initiated a robust intervention program for students who display signs of trouble? Was it just easier and cheaper to tell the teachers to defend themselves with guns?
What kind of a lesson is this for students? I have always felt as an educator that my most important job was to demonstrate to my high school students appropriate adult behavior, civility, manners, and compassion. It would never occur to me, despite the fact that I've taught in two tough districts -- the Bronx, NY and Newark, NJ -- to carry a gun. My protection has always been treating others with respect. And you know what? I was respected in return. This is the lesson that I want my students to learn, not that they can "protect" themselves if they carry a weapon.
Let's hope that Harrold, Texas is the first and last district to make such a poor policy.