Since the Newtown school shooting, there have been suggestions that teachers and school administrators be armed. I have taught in Oakland schools for 20 years, and this idea is antithetical to everything I believe in as a teacher. Those of us who choose this profession often do so because we see education as an alternative to solving problems with guns.
But first, the practical problems. Where do I keep this gun? In my pocket? A holster? Locked in my desk? In an emergency, I'd need to get to it immediately. There'd be no time to get to the key even if I had one, because as often as not, the keys to desks and closets have long been lost. Wherever the gun is, how could I ensure 100 percent that no student would ever get to it?
Of course, teachers would have to be trained to load, aim and accurately fire a gun and my school district, which has had to make drastic budget cuts the last few years, would have to pay for it. Teachers have long lobbied for more meaningful professional development. How ironic that it would now include target practice.
Schools today are highly emotional, stressful places at times. Guns, even in the hands of adults, have no place in that environment because all of us, teachers and students, are affected by its challenges.
Even if teachers volunteered to carry guns, I doubt that all adults can necessarily be trusted with firearms either. We have seen too many examples of adults snapping under pressure. I would not be comfortable thinking of any of my colleagues, coworkers or administrators having a gun and being prepared to use it, under any circumstances.
The best way to stop the bloodshed is to teach peace; this is what educators want to do. Non-violence training needs to be much more extensive and comprehensive than it is now and it needs to begin in pre-school and be taught throughout a student's education. But at whatever level it is taught I know one thing — no students, whose lives are often endangered by guns when they leave the school, are going to take seriously a teacher giving a lesson on non-violent conflict resolution with a gun strapped to her hip.
With a Perspective, I'm Debora Gordon.
Debora Gordon has been a teacher of English, history and art with the Oakland Unified School District since 1991.