Teaching is Hard Enough Without the Threat of Imminent Death




I am so sick of coming to school and having an impromptu meeting to discuss why my students and I might die today.




Every time there’s a major school shooting somewhere in the nation it seems a copycat makes a threat in my own backyard, and we react.


The police tell us it’s not a credible threat so school stays open.


However, be vigilant.


Be aware that our students know about the threat and will be talking about it.


We’ll bring in bomb-sniffing dogs…


But try to maintain calm and order.


There will be a lock down drill in a few days…


But try to make the kids feel safe and secure.


An older student violently attacked a classmate last week after threatening to go on a spree…


But attempt to establish an atmosphere conducive to learning.


To which, I say: are you freaking kidding me?


I know Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.




There are certain basic necessities anyone must have in order to become a fully actualized person.


After physiological necessities like food and water, safety is absolutely fundamental.


Without it, you can’t get people to focus much on anything else.


You can’t get children to pay attention to nouns and verbs, for instance, if they’re afraid they’re going to be shot and killed.


You can’t get them to care about writing a complete sentence, if they feel like they may have to duck and cover at any moment.


You can’t get them to bother with abstract reading comprehension if they’re afraid of imminent death!


Oh, and by the way, I’m not exactly at my best either!


My lesson plans aren’t going to win any awards when the best solution our legislators can come up with is giving me a loaded pistol to keep in my desk drawer!


Well, Yippee Ki Yay! I’m a teacher! Pew! Pew!


My 7th grade students are literally frightened that going to school on any given day may lead to the end of their lives.


Every couple of weeks on the news it’s another school shooting and another body count, while lawmakers do nothing to ensure it won’t happen again tomorrow.


Every few days, it’s a rumor about this or that troubled kid we all know snapping and throwing a gun in his backpack. Or it’s an anonymous threat scrawled on a wall or a social media page.


Today it was teaching classes where half the kids were missing because their parents held them out of school afraid a vague rumor of imminent violence was true.


And as I tried to assure those who did show up that everything was okay, law enforcement checked the lockers with K-9 police dogs looking for weapons or drugs.


What the heck are we coming to?


I work in a police state and my students are being asked to learn in a penitentiary.


And the teachers should get guns.


And the principals should get guns.


And the parents should get guns.


And the guns should get little tinier guns to protect themselves from even more guns!


This is madness.


We’re begging for a political solution but our political system is a shambles. Nothing puts that in starker contrast than the gun debate.


The overwhelming majority of Americans want sensible gun laws – an assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole, mental health screenings, etc.


If we lived in an authentic Democratic Republic, we’d have them. But we don’t, because we live in a plutocracy.


One industry has enough power and influence that the only solution our policymakers can safely suggest is one that increases that same industry’s bottom line.


It’s like Tony the Tiger suggesting the only cure for obesity is to eat more Frosted Flakes! They’re Ggggrrrreeeaaaattt!


A teacher’s job is hard enough without society crumbling all around us.


But that doesn’t mean the children aren’t learning.


They’re watching the world burn with wide eyes. They’re taking in every flame, every bullet hole, every cowardly senator, representative and chief executive.


They’re watching and taking names.



At the end of the year, policymakers will wag their fingers at the nation’s teachers about failing standardized test scores.


They’ll bemoan sinking academic standards, powerful labor unions and a lack of moral fiber as the cause of a generation of children who lost out on an education while cowering under bulletproof backpacks.


But this generation refuses to be lost.


Despite everything, they’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs back to sanity.


They are emotionally damaged by a country that no longer functions, but they know the truth.


They know who’s responsible. And they know what to do about it.


When they reject our society, we’ll know why.


Because the next generation will be nothing like us.


And on a day like today, that’s the most hopeful thought I can offer.

15 thoughts on “Teaching is Hard Enough Without the Threat of Imminent Death

  1. Most of the students will not feel safe and secure and it wasn’t the shooter in Florida that caused all this fear. It’s the effing media that pumps an event like the shooting way out of proportion to the risks that children will be in the wrong school at the wrong time.

    There are more than 50 million students K-8 in the U.S. public education system and more than 90 thousand public schools.

    The odds are much higher than a child will get in a vehicle accident on the way to school or on the way home after school vs the odds of a school shooting happening.

    Do you think the children fear to get in the car or a bus every school day?

    I think students should feel safe on a public school campus and all public schools could do more to create that feeling by coming up with a logical, well thought out action plan to safeguard as many students and teachers as possible when a shooter shows up. But arming millions of teachers and staff is the stupidest, most ignorant thing I’ve heard.

    All that does is provide the shooter with more weapons as he shoots teachers and takes their firearms off their dead bodies as he goes on his rampage to find more targets. Who shoots first is the winner and only the crazy, hate-filled, angry shooter knows he is on his way to a shooting. Even with an automatic pistol strapped on, teachers will not be ready for it when it happens and the advantage is to the shooter. It’s called the advantage of surprise.

    Then imagine teachers pulling out there firearms and trying to figure out who the shooter is on a campus with students running in a panic in all directions. Bullets do not discriminate. They hit anything that gets in their way and can even go through bodies and hit other bodies on the other side.


  2. Let it be known that I support those students and others who bore witness to their teachers and friends getting their heads blown off or were walking past the carnage of their fellow students and teachers.

    This was never supposed to happen there, and I hope they will become voters and vote out those bums.

    I also hope they will talk to their friends and families who think it’s cute or funny to give Halloween parties, etc. in “Blackface”, and otherwise mock Blacks and other people of color on school campuses and playing it off as a joke.

    You see, THIS is why the NRA was founded post Civil War and still exists under the specious guise of The Second Amendment Right to bear arms.

    They exist to instill fears in White people so they can arm themselves against any possible Black uprisings and they always have.

    That’s why Post Emancipation Proclamation the U.S. Senators responsible for establishing the NRA passed Federal Laws prohibiting newly freed Black Slaves from owning Firearms. BTW, The KKK was also established during that Post Civil War time.

    The NRA Lobby were always there to shoot people who look like me, (Black), and protect people who look like most Whites.

    As much as I sympathize and support those children who’ve had the shock of their lives that they will never down, their militancy and potential voting power will not change a damn thing unless the true reason behind the genesis of The NRA is faced and dealt with.

    It is my sincere hope after horrid crisis fades yet again into the American memory and are examined and parsed by those very communities who were deemed, “safe”, that they will at least come to terms as to how one of them was permitted to walk about with impunity and gain access to such weapons, even after being reported by both students and teachers alike.

    It may save more lives than they realize. Until we face what The NRA is and stands for, more students where people are able to amass such destructive paramilitary artillery, (not in inner-cities), will perish.

    Don’t let this happen without at least considering this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I experienced a similar “possible threat” at school this past week. And another a few months ago. I wonder what the statistics are on how often schools deal with “possible threats” – seems like a lot in the news this week, but they’re only getting coverage because of the Parkland shooting.

    Shootings are horrendous. But this slow and steady slip into constant fear and vigilance is damaging as well.

    It’s not just me. It’s not just Steve. How many of us are living this way?


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