Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Teacher's Letter to Gun Owners

This letter is written by Kathy Czapleski-Savage, one of the most dedicated teachers I've ever known. What she describes here is a truth every American is morally obligated to hear:

I am a teacher. 

I have chosen to spend my life inspiring the minds of the next generation. Inspiring them to reach for that which seems unattainable. Inspiring them to view failure as part of the learning process and not the end of a road. Inspiring them to be leaders and not followers. Inspiring them to find their place as a citizen of the world, not of a country.

Inspiring them to be tolerant, accepting, kind, and generous. Inspiring them to find happiness in hard work. Inspiring them to be curious, creative and critical thinkers. Inspiring them to leave the world a better place than when they first became aware of their presence in it.

And yet...every day I keep the blinds on our beautiful windows to the world shut. Literally. I close my students off from seeing their friends in the common area during lunch, from
knowing whether it is raining or sunny, from seeing anything outside our classroom walls. 

Leaving those blinds shut is one less thing I have to worry about in the event of an active shooter. I can focus on my students, who I will protect with my last breath, and not think about a checklist for my classroom.

We are prepared.

Our desks are arranged in groups to make travel from one end of the room to the other easier. In the event of an active shooter I don’t want my students tripping over each other’s hastily overturned chairs or backpacks. Yes, it makes testing more difficult and definitely more work for me, but we are prepared. I make sure that my cell phone is charged and on my desk opened to the page with our panic button app.

We are ready.

I make sure that "stuff" doesn’t pile up in my closet and that I could fit 32 students inside in case of an emergency. I am prepared. Our doors our kept locked at all times. Yes, this means class is constantly interrupted when students need to come back into the classroom after using the bathroom or go to their locker or someone from the office is delivering a pass or a package. Only I can answer the door and that takes me away from the lesson, but we are prepared.

Every breath, every thought, every action is geared toward keeping students safe in the event of an active shooter. Yes, it is at a cost. That cost increases every time there is another mass shooting. Clear backpacks, code red drills, morning announcements with reminders and tips to stay safe, lockdowns, class discussions and on and on, always adding to the list of things we can or should do.

And every now and then I pause and ask myself, is this who we are? Is this what we are willing to accept? Is this the price we have agreed we need to pay so you can have a gun? Our every waking moment is filled with precautions that disrupt the flow of what education should be, so you can have a gun?

At Santa Fe, students must now take their final exams next to empty desks where their friends should be and focus on a piece of paper with meaningless questions. What does this test matter when their friend is dead? How can they focus without fear that they might be a sitting duck for the next mass shooter? But you have your guns. And you are ok with the new status quo. You are the problem.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing. If I had known it would get this much attention, I would have taken more time to write it better.

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  2. Violent movies and video games would be more worthwhile than taking away guns, if it's not too late for our society.
    Food for thought, the Jewish people didn't have guns during the holocaust.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. I couldn’t eat your “food for thought” as I found it indigestible. To be clear, “Hitler did not call for disarming German citizens. In fact, in 1938, the Nazi government deregulated most guns.”

    http://www.pqed.org/2014/07/psa-hitler-did-not-take-away-peoples_6.html?m=1

    Additionally, there are a number of reputable studies showing little or no correlation between video games and violent behavior.

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