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The article, "Teaching In An Age Of School Shootings" by Jeneen Interlandi, discusses the effects, controversies, and viewpoints of the teacher's experience in an age where schools are being threatened by shooters. Interlandi writes about the mental and physical effects of this on teachers. She also addresses the controversy in that teachers have become the first responders. Lastly, Interlandi highlights the new laws to have teachers carry firearms and the efforts to decrease gun violence and increase school safety. This article is so important because of the multiple occurrences of shootings in schools across America. The modern world of urban education is directly and immensely affected by the tragedies and threats in schools to the students, staff, and families.
In 2013, a study was done at Lehigh University where research questioned why shooters choose schools as their targets and how they become perpetrators of violence. Author Elizabeth Bowers says that school shooters become school shooters over a long period of time, and they chose schools as a target because there are many people in an enclosed space. Bowers also talks about the three types of shooters: Psychotic, Psychopathic, and Traumatized. This just begins to explain how and why these issues arise in schools in the twentieth century. Interlandi writes about the experiences and opinions of teachers who work in this environment. She writes an account of a superintendent, Trent Lovett, that was part of a school shooting. Lovett said that the floor was slick with blood and there were spilled beverages and abandoned backpacks everywhere. He remembered hearing cellphones ring throughout the halls, with no one to respond to them. While walking along the halls he found the cellphone of a student he knew was shot in the head. Lovett felt obligated to answer it because he knew what it felt like to be a worried father. He then proceeded to pick up the phone and tell his student’s father what had happened, followed by three simple instructions: Hurry, be safe, and pray.
As you can imagine by reading that short account from a victim of a shooting, this is a horrifying and traumatic experience for everyone involved. With this said, the mental and physical effects of a shooting in a school are immense for people. We know that the trauma that students and teachers experience after a school shooting can be both severe and enduring. (Interlandi) It is said that 20 percent of soldiers and 40 of rape survivors host traumatic symptoms of PTSD. Though, there is no statistic of this for survivors of school shootings. This sparked a question for me: Why have we let this go on for so long, yet we have not taken the time to see the rates of PTSD in these victims and made the effort to make sure they are okay?
Interlandi discusses the idea of teachers becoming first responders. A former teacher of Columbine High School has taken this responsibility into her own hands. Once she retired after the shooting in 1999, she began to come together with other teacher victims to talk about the effects of these massacres and their experiences saving children. She then took to social media and made a private Facebook discussion page so that teachers from all over could come together to support one another. It has been said time and time again that teachers have become the first responders to these incidences. This I believe is true. Put yourself in a scenario that you are a teacher in a public middle school. Suddenly, a shooter breaks in and the chaos and fear unfolds. Of course, the police and medical services cannot be there in the exact second this happens, so who else is there and needed to help save these precious children? You. Teachers all over the United States are forced to become the first responders in these situations—though, when becoming a teacher, you do not necessarily think you are signing up to be a savior and protector in the instance of a widespread massacre in your building.
There is controversy about new laws being passed for teachers to carry firearms. Interlandi reports that since the Parkland shooting in early 2018, at least 14 of the 50 states have initiated laws that allow teachers to carry firearms while at work. The idea is not new and has been talked about since 2006, when a gunman killed six students inside a one-room school house. Though now it is decided that this is of extreme urgency and should be looked at closer. Matthew Mayer, of Rutgers Graduate School, believes that the key to better safety in schools is more gun control, better mental health assistance, and threat-assessment programs. Since his plan for this was created, him and his colleagues have developed an eight-point plan of key actions to increase safety. The controversy behind this is that over 4,400 people have signed this document, but political action is yet to come for this plan. This sparks the question of whether these new laws are good or bad for schools, and their environments. David Hollister talks about the idea of politics versus policy. In this sense, there is the debate of whether teachers carrying firearms is good politics and bad policy, or bad politics and good policy. In my opinion, I believe that this idea is a bad policy with good politics. The idea in its general sense is dangerous because I do not believe that teachers should bring firearms into schools. We should not advocate for already threatened schools to bring more tools of destruction into their doors. Though, I think there are good politics behind this because its intentions are to protect the children.
Education in the world in recent years is directly affected and changed by these traumatic incidences. In the article from the New York Times, Interlandi covers many different issues on school shootings; however, her main question is, "How do you walk back into a classroom again?" Through vigorous research and interviews, I believe she has cracked that code that everyone is different, and yes, all victims are affected the same way, but they all handle it differently. From taking action, to speaking out, to even leaving the teaching world, everyone reacts in their own ways. And I think that that is the most important takeaway from these issues. Families, students, and staff have lost precious members of their lives from these massacres.