Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Modest Compromise

Sure it’s nuts to have teachers carry guns in classrooms. Trump thinks we’re full of retired military, and sees every schoolteacher as a potential Bruce Willis from Die Hard. In truth, most of us would perform more like Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show.

The notion of arming teachers is simply absurd. I’d be shocked if any  other country on earth would even entertain this conversation. Of course, no other country on earth has the National Rifle Association, which poses as a citizen group but is actually funded by gun manufacturers.

This entire conversation is a distraction. I’m not sure whether or not Trump knows it, but I’m sure the smarter people who run and represent the NRA do. This conversation didn’t come up after past mass murders, but people have finally had it with “thoughts and prayers,” and “now is not the time.”

All of a sudden, our news channels are full of brilliant and inspiring teenagers who’ve been through an ordeal. These teenagers have heard the status quo and it isn’t good enough for them. In fact, it isn’t good enough for anyone, and hasn’t been for decades.

In spite of all that, teachers are always looking for solutions. If President Trump wants guns in schools, I think teachers would be willing to compromise so as to accommodate his wishes. Now I personally would not send my daughter to a school in which teachers were armed in the classroom. I see too much possibility for accidental mishap. Who knows when some teacher will finally get so mad at some student that the gun appears?

Police are professionals, and they make mistakes. We aren’t trained like they are, so we’ll likely make more. So let’s forget about sending armed teachers in the classroom. Fortunately for President Trump, we do things other than teach.

Often we find ourselves at odds with administration, and indeed teacher observations carry high stakes these days. I’ve actually sat at meetings with administrators who announced that lessons were unsatisfactory because teachers failed to have students raise green cards when they understood, and red cards when they didn’t.

I’ve seen others write that the only way to gauge comprehension was to have the students raise their left hands when they understood, and right when they didn’t. Maybe it was the other way around. Who knows? Not only that, but the teacher in question was criticized for walking around and looking at student work instead of doing these things.

I’ve been teaching for 33 years. One of the very first things I learned was that asking, “Does everyone understand?” is a waste of breath. Teenagers are not eager to be seen as not understanding things. When I was a 15-year-old boy, my primary interest was 15-year-old girls. There was no way I was going to admit to them I didn’t understand.

In the same way, I very much doubt the, “I don’t understand” red cards will go up the way they should. In fact, the only way I can see how individual students are doing is by looking at their individual work. I’d argue that’s better than taking their word for whether or not they understand. I can also gauge exactly what their needs are in that way. Of course, administrators may see it differently.

Anyway, here’s my proposed compromise with President Trump. We will keep guns in special lockboxes, perhaps in our car trunks. We will open them and take guns out only for meetings with our supervisors. Now I don’t want to paint them with a broad brush. UFT will have the option of labeling supervisors, “Not Insane.” It will be strictly forbidden, in the revised Collective Bargaining Agreement, to bring firearms to meetings with supervisors designated Not Insane.

I’m always happy to come to a reasonable compromise. Not only will this take our children out of harm’s way, but it will also enable NRA to sell additional guns, which is clearly the only thing about which they give a Golly Gosh Darn.
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