Monday, June 11, 2018

Cuomo Wants Teachers to Have Guns Removed from Student Homes

A teacher friend told me a story, after we heard about Anthony Bourdain. He was teaching his last class on a Friday before a break. He wished the students a great break. Everyone was happy, giving high fives, and walking out of the classroom with smiles on their faces. One girl lingered behind.

When everyone left, she remained in her seat. "I'm gonna have a great weekend," she told the teacher. "I'm going to kill myself."

He sat and talked to her for a while. When she became quiet, he managed to get up and call the principal's office. They sent in a social worker and a guidance counselor, who took charge of the situation. They sat and spoke with the girl for hours. The parents came and got her. My friend doesn't know what happened during the week off, but he remembers that the girl came back, not having killed herself.

The girl's parents both called and visited the school to thank him. I don't suppose there were any Danielson points for this. After all, no one had observed the questioning, and no one can accurately determine the degrees of knowledge the questions in this conversation entailed. Most importantly, there's no evidence any of this actually raised test scores.

Now Governor Cuomo has burst into the arena, on his 2020 white steed, proposing that teachers should be able to have guns taken away from the homes of troubled students. This is not actually a bad idea. If there were fewer guns, there would be fewer suicides. But it's kind of a small niche Cuomo's forged with this, a remarkably small one actually.

My friend's story is unusual in that few students are likely to just open up like that and give a direct warning to a classroom teacher. It's actually a great and lucky thing that the girl decided to open up to him at that particular moment. What if he didn't stress the great weekend? Would she have said anything? Who knows?

Cuomo's idea is likely directed more against school shootings than suicide, though who knows what exactly is rattling between Andy's ears? How many school shooters are likely to drop hints or tell a classroom teacher they're gonna come in tomorrow and kill everyone the next day? I'll take a wild guess and say few indeed. Cuomo may earn some brownie points with some voters for this, but it's not likely to fix the issue.

In fairness, this issue can't be resolved at a state level. With other states having relatively lax laws, with the gun show loophole, and with a Congress bought and paid for by the NRA, anyone can cross a border or two and buy whatever. There's an issue that really needs to be addressed.

Meanwhile, in the rare to nonexistent instances that a student advises a teacher that he's got an arsenal at home to shoot up the school with, I suppose teachers will be able to request they be confiscated. I guess if it happens, we shall all be relieved. It seems, though, very much like a band-aid on a gaping wound--like it will affect virtually nothing. How does Cuomo even think of this stuff?

We've got a President who's in the bag for the NRA, along with a whole lot of Senators and Congresspersons. Until we dump them, we're not going to be able to do much but apply band-aids. Cuomo will probably get some Brownie points with someone or other for doing this, but I'm left wondering how we live in a country where this is even possible.

When I posted the article on Facebook, I got a bunch of responses wondering where this would fit into the Danielson rubric. Will you get rated effective if they find guns in the student's home? Ineffective if you don't? Who knows? Will you get a letter in your file for making the student feel bad after they took the guns out of his house? Isn't it incredible that our minds even go to those places?

And yet there we are. I suppose it's better than the usual "thoughts and prayers" nonsense. How much, though, is an open question.
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