What if the teacher who hated you was carrying a gun?
March 3, 2018

The idea of arming teachers alarms me. Turning our schools into armed camps is dangerous and, on so many levels, sick. The focus should be on getting society on a track where guns on school grounds are unthinkable in anyone’s hands.

My biggest concern, however, stems from my own experience with teachers. I’ve had very few who would even want to carry a gun. But I have had numerous teachers and have seen enough difficult classroom circumstances that I fear for student safety if teachers are weaponized.

The weapons in the old days were simple. I attended Seattle public schools where wooden paddles were wielded against miscreants. There was a teacher at my grade school in south Seattle who would have bad boys rest the side of their heads on the blackboard’s chalk trays until their neck muscles stiffened so much they walked home with their ears leaning on their shoulder.

Our elementary school principal, known as Iron Pants, loved ritual humiliation. She forced the unruly or mischievous, or sometimes the wholly innocent, to trail around behind her in a long, snaking conga line — a kind of chain gang without chains. The only thing I thought she nurtured was resentment.

And then there was Mrs. S., a jowly tyrant who enforced non-existent rules. She loved to pick on boys. One time she “caught” me returning to the classroom during lunch hour at my teacher’s request only to grab my face in a vice-like grip — she had the claw power of a king crab. With her grip, she could almost pick you off the floor and ensure you had no means of speaking back as your two cheeks were squeezed so they met in the middle of your face. She berated you, called you names. If she’d had a gun, I think pistol-whippings might have become her forte.

In junior high school on Beacon Hill, there was poor discipline and chaos at times. Teachers felt like they were in a war zone — but the worst weapon was a thrown chair or swats in the vice principal’s office.

There was also an obvious racial disparity in how punishment was doled out at this school. African-American students, especially males, were targeted. Boys were swatted with heavy wooden paddles. Racial tensions were high — I can only imagine what guns would have done. Black students are and have historically been disciplined, punished and expelled disproportionately.

We have a history of bias in police shootings — I wager we would see it in teacher shootings of students too.

Read the whole story at Crosscut.


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