Monday, December 14, 2015

In remembrance of Newtown: Schools are becoming prisons

December 14th marks the three year anniversary of the terrorist attack at
Sandy Hook Elementary School, and nothing has been done to prevent it
from happening again.

If you follow me regularly, you know that every week I update (when necessary) and post this piece as a protest/plea to President Obama and officials anywhere and everywhere to stop gun violence. But as we've seen far too many times—most recently in San Bernadino—this country is run by the NRA, and until that changes, the massacres and bloodshed will only continue.

Next to public education, gun violence is an issue about which I care deeply and passionately. It started with Sandy Hook. I was eating my lunch at my desk and catching up on the news, when I heard about it. I shared my experience in an open letter to America's elected officials
I stood in the hallway of my K-4 school and said to a coworker, "Did you hear? There was another shooting—at an elementary school. They shot kindergarteners." I remember looking at the little ones who were passing us on their way to class and thinking, it could have been them; it could have been us.
Nothing has changed since then. The terrorist attacks continue; the empty rhetoric from the NRA and the politicians they've bought continues; and so do the prayer vigils. 

While elected officials everywhere refuse to act, our schools are becoming prisons. They have to, because we never know when and where the next terrorist attack will occur. Instead of spending money on educating our students, school districts are now forced to spend far too much upgrading school entrances, fitting them with more security cameras and equipment, including bullet-proof glass. 

No longer do we only have fire drills, we now have lock down drills, where kids practice hiding from terrorist invasions. A far cry from the 1950's 'duck and cover' drills against nameless, faceless Communists who were thousands of miles away. We now have to hide from people who could be our neighbors: that strange guy, that angry teenager.

Classroom doors in many districts must now remain closed and locked at all times. And that's so much fun in the warm weather when there's no air conditioning. Staff must use a key to lock and unlock every door in the building, even storage closets and copy rooms.

Many districts now have high-tech devices that scan the drivers license of every visitor. And police regularly walk the halls.

All this does not make me feel safer. Quite the contrary, I feel less safe because it reminds me we live in a very violent society. We have to do all this because some nut job with a gun could force his way into my school at any moment and blow us all away. We have to do this because a powerful minority is holding this country hostage just so their members have the 'right' to own WMDs. I'm sorry, I didn't sign up to be a prison guard, and my students aren't prisoners. But that's what it's become because elected officials are too afraid of losing all that NRA PAC money and possibly losing their next election.

After the terrorist attack in San Bernadino, The NY Daily News posted this front page headline that quickly went viral:

It reminded me of the joke about the guy who is in his house praying to God to save him as the flood waters are rising: 
A police vehicle arrives and offers to help him evacuate. "No", he says, "God is going to save me." Then as the waters rise, a rescue boat arrives. Again, he refuses to go because God is going to save him. Then the flood waters rise some more, and he moves up to the roof. A helicopter arrives and again he refuses help because God is going to save him. Finally his house is submerged. He's floundering in the flood waters and angrily shouting to God. "Why didn't you save me?!" To which God replies, "What more do you want? I sent the police, a boat and a helicopter, and you wouldn't go!"
We don't need to pray to God to fix this. We already have the power to do so. All it will take is for elected officials to stand up and do something about it. The second amendment says: 
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The key words are "well regulated". Right now in the United States, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" is more important than the right of the people to live. And it is not well regulated.

Time for elected officials to come out of hiding and do their damned job!

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything."
~ Albert Einstein