Today is Sunday…. our hearts are heavy as we mourn for the unspeakable loss of young lives full of promise, the loss of the valiant educators who faced the unimaginable to protect their children, and their families who have to find a way to try to carry on.
Tomorrow is Monday… and every educator, every principal, every superintendent, school secretary, cook, custodian, nurse and guidance counselor in every corner of the country will be at school a little bit earlier, to quietly console each other before the morning bell and give each other the strength to greet their children bounding through the school doors, with arms and hearts outstretched…
We know that deep down underneath in their sub consciousness, as it dwells in ours, lurks the thought of a gunman charging into their school and into their classroom.
We will ease their worries, help them feel safe, let them know we love them… and then we will try to teach them.
We will carry on, we are a collective, we are a community and we come to school each and every day knowing that at any given moment, we might be the first responders too.
And we ask ourselves… how has it come to this?
High school students at Columbine, Littleton, Chardon…. and now kindergarteners and first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary… thousands of children taken down by gunfire on the streets of our neighborhoods, in their homes…. decades of senseless death and violence.
And we ask ourselves… what is next?
It is up to us as educators, to join together to make sense out of the senseless.
It is up to us take charge of our children’s futures and tell the real story of the complexities of our students’ lives and our teaching profession.
We are facing a frontline in our schools as a result of a rise in lax gun laws, a growing culture of violence and as a result of decades of growing poverty and alienation our society.
We teach children who are lost and suffering. We teach children who are desperate to be seen, to be heard, to be connected and cared for.
We help 20 – 30 students face their own frontline each day; divorce, parents losing jobs, deaths in the family, loneliness, addictions, depression, anxiety, extreme disabilities, new immigrants unable to speak English, struggling to fit in, we deal with it all… and then we teach, we inspire, we motivate, we challenge… we don’t give up on our children.
We are the voice of our students… they are our “special interest.” We need to take our kids frontlines to the front doors of our Statehouses across the country and demand more restrictive gun laws and an end to legislation that allows our children’s education to be used for profiteering purposes.
We need to demand that every penny of profit garnered by schools be re-invested in our children so that they grow up to be healthy, whole and well educated so that we are able to stop this cycle of violence.
We need to tell the story of CEOs building million dollar corporations off of the backs of our children and our public tax dollars. If there is a profit, how about hiring more guidance counselors, a full time school nurse, a social worker, more teachers when classrooms reach 25 or more students? How about hiring more intervention specialists for our special needs students, and a full-time school psychologist to help support children who are diagnosed with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses on the rise?
It is time to galvanize and charge forward into our communities and join the momentum growing from parent groups across the country fighting to preserve public education, superintendents and school board members writing open letters to their communities to fight for quality public schools for their students, teachers fighting for their voices of expertise to be heard, and state supreme courts finally ruling that it is unconstitutional to channel public funds to for-profit schools.
The train is on the track and poised to run across our country, we are lining up and ready to go… educators, parents, principals, superintendents, school board members, supreme courts, legislators…
Let’s get going… let’s demand stricter gun laws to protect our kids.
And let’s demand that we preserve our public schools, the heartbeat of our communities, where we educate, care for and keep our kids connected to one another and their communities.
Let’s do everything in our power to help keep the innocence of childhood as a civil right, not to be stolen away at point blank range in the blink of an eye.
We are the voice of our children, together, let’s take action to protect our kids, before it’s too late.