Inside: One teacher contemplates the real reason school shootings keep happening and real solutions and action steps we can take today to create change.
A lot of people have a lot to say about the latest horrific school shooting. I, myself, have avoided talking about it or even reading about it for some time because of the sheer magnitude of everything involved.
My facebook feed is filled to the brim with people picking one side or another and people arguing over the best solutions to the problem. One post in particular stood out to me, as I was scrolling through my friends feed.
It caught my eye for a few reasons…
1) I respect the person that posted it and she rarely posts on Facebook, so I knew this must be important.
2) Immediately I could tell this one was different than all the other ones.
My friend, and former colleague, penned a beautiful post about what it feels like to be a teacher right now. She speaks of what it feels like to at a loss as a nation to keep seeing the shootings happen over and over again but at the same time writes what almost every teacher that I know is feeling inside right now.
I have asked for her permission to republish this post from her Facebook page because I think it is worth being read by the masses. These things are not being said by the news stations and most of the articles you read. If you are curious what many teachers (who are in the trenches, teaching our kids really feel is the problem behind the school shootings… read on to read Rebecca’s beautifully and thoughtful post).
HER POWERFUL POST:
I wouldn’t normally post something political on FB, but considering the recent news in Florida, I feel compelled to say something.
As a teacher, I am appalled, disgusted, and quite frankly deeply enraged that mass shootings continue to happen, especially in school setting, which is also my workplace.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been done to combat this evil.
Yesterday a few close family members & friends reached out to me to discuss how I felt about what is happening, and more specifically how I felt in regards to the FL school tragedy.
I have been thinking, and contemplating, and reflecting, and thinking.
What Could Possibly Cause The Increase in School Shootings?
As my brain spiraled through a multitude of ideas- I contemplated and tried to reason through why this happens in schools, I considered what strategies or solutions might exist that could be implemented to prevent these horrific, unimaginable incidents from happening.
I asked myself where the problem may have initiated, what I thought the problem was-
Gun laws? No. (minus the fact that no one should be able to get their hands on an AR-15)
Mental health? Not entirely (which I will explain later).
How about the defunct, depraved public education funding system that deliberately deprives our teachers and students of resources, including counselors and nurses? YES.
Could the system and policies that allow class sizes to reach a despicable and detrimentally high number (30+) be held responsible for this? YES.
Could the lawmakers and superintendents that enforce educational policies and structures be responsible for the overall destruction of public education, leaving students and teachers feeling disregarded, disrespected, disheartened and deceived by those in power be to blame? YES.
Our lawmakers disingenuously support public education; they decrease funding, which increases class size to an unmanageable amount of students.
“Large Class Sizes are Full of Real Humans Struggling Through The Most Challenging Time of Their Lives”
These large class sizes are full of students who are human– emotional beings, struggling through one of the most challenging times of their lives.
Students who are trying to navigate their sense of identity, their sense of belonging to a community, while trying to steer their path towards their future.
These classes include students who have experienced trauma, all kinds of trauma, but the decrease of funding correlates to a decrease in the number of mental health professionals working in schools.
This lack of funding also directly affects the teacher to student ratio.
This is absurd.
- How can a school with over 1,000 students only be given one counselor?
- How is a teacher who has multiple classes a day, each one filled to capacity with 30+ students, supposed to build community with all of those kids- each one uniquely different than the next?
- How can we be expected to nurture, teach, and guide students into making the morally and ethically sound choices or hold them accountable for their actions when they have made a mistake?
- How can we effectively recognize the red flags our student’s may exhibit and properly provide support? We can’t. It is impossible. It has now become dangerous.
Related: What You Don’t Know about “That Kid”
“I blame the destruction of public education.”
THIS is the problem.
When I first started teaching 14 years ago school was fun.
I loved my job, I loved my students- but year after year I became demoralized just like thousands of other teachers. Saddened by the progressive demise of fun in an educational setting.
Schools have now become dangerous pressure cookers, institutions that are so narrowly focused on test scores and student growth. Students have become data points tied to educational funding.
Teachers have become data strategists, responsible for “growing” their students and pressured to increase test scores. Teachers have been stripped of their creative approach to delivering content and ensuring that learning is fun. We have been constantly asked to do more and more every year, but are given fewer resources.
Class size is out of control.
This is demoralizing.
I blame the demoralization of teachers.
I blame the destruction of public education.
I blame the blatant disregard for public education in this country and the dismissiveness of those in power to affect change.
“The Solution is To Provide Teachers with Guns”
I see that some folks think the solution is to provide teachers with guns.
This is also absurd.
How about we try to fund the schools appropriately and adequately, provide manageable class sizes, so that teachers can truly develop a sense of community, engage students in meaningful discussions, provide support for all students by engrossing them in positive behavior interventions, return art, music and sports to all schools and ensure every school has sufficient mental health personnel and every school has an effective approach for supporting kids with mental health issues?
If this approach does not work, ok then- give me a gun.
“We Have to Take Action”
My final thought is in regard to taking action.
We HAVE to do something or this WILL continue.
For those of you not in the education world, here’s a summary of a few things in the works- there is talk of a May 1st nationwide teacher strike, meaning ALL teachers- public, private, parochial, community college, professors, even a call for religious leaders to take action on this day.
There is also an action day on April 20th.
Be prepared, stay in the loop.
If the strike does come to fruition, then support it- don’t fight it. Don’t be mad that you have to figure out what to do with your kid for the day, be grateful that your child wasn’t gunned down at school. Support your teachers.
I plan to participate and get involved as often as possible, although I am now in a right-to-work state and striking may mean I lose my job. But- I would rather be jobless than lifeless.
We ALL have to get up on our feet, and get out and fight.
Here are a few places you can donate or take action:
Rebecca Garelli has been a professional educator for 14 years, focusing much of her career on teaching middle school math and science. In 2015 she joined the staff at DePaul University as a Science Instructional Coach and part-time adjunct faculty. Through this position she worked closely with K-12 teachers within the Chicago Public School district, providing high-quality professional development workshops and coaching centered around the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Rebecca has presented science workshops at both the Illinois Science Teacher Association (ISTA) and Arizona Science Teacher Association (ASTA) state conferences, as well as National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) national conference. Since 2009, Rebecca has been working as a Science Educational Consultant and has recently begun professionally writing as Freelance Science Curriculum Writer. She is currently teaching 7th grade math and science in Phoenix, AZ.