From Pecans to Peaches

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
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Feb 01 2013

Guns, Grandma, and My Perspective on School Violence and Gun Control – Part 1?

Yesterday I sat in my fiancé’s living room with his roommate and my good friend J. We were celebrating the coming of the weekend (no Friday classes) and lightly discussing our plans for after graduation. J had finally sent his résumé to Oscar Myer – we’re all crossing our fingers that he becomes a Weinermobile driver. I sighed and explained that my grandmother, who is very cautious to let me teach in a low income, (and what she considers to be) high violence area like Atlanta, would probably try to force me to stop participating in TFA if another school shooting occurred. There has been so many in the news I figured one more would send her over the edge.

Given the heightened media attention after the tragedy in Newtown, CT on December 12, 2012, gun control has become a major issue in political agendas. Since Newtown, multiple school violence incidences have gained mass media attention.

January 10, 2013 Taft Union High School
January 15, 2013 Stevens Institute of Business and Arts
January 15, 2013 Hazard Community and Technical College
January 22, 2013 Lone Star College

And, to shock my system not an hour after I told J about my worries considering TFA

January 31, 2013 Pierce Middle School, Atlanta GA

And so I sat there, now at the kitchen table playing cards with J, reeling with questions. Does TFA send corps members to that school? Were there current TFA corps members at the school when it happened? How were they prepared for this incident?

I’m glad to hear that the student who was assaulted is expected to be released to go home this evening from the hospital, but it still leaves a mark on my conscious as to whether I would be fully prepared as an educator to handle such a stressful situation.

 

 

When the gun debate began, I was asked many a time how I would feel if I were responsible to operate a handgun given a situation where a gunman was threatening the lives of my students. The “give the teachers a gun” argument has been heavily debated, including by my state Governor, Rick Perry. Within this debate there are those arguing to mandate teachers with weapons (in their minds “protection”), while there are others that suggest the idea that teachers have the option of carrying a concealed handgun.

Either way, this makes me feel extremely uncomfortable.

I understand that Atlanta isn’t the safest place in the universe. (#6 on Forbe’s Most Dangerous US Cities List, 2012)

I also understand that Teach for America does an incredibly good job at not working with schools with high violence. Now, I get that past numbers on safety mean nothing when “nut jobs”, as some say, lose their cool and blow through a what was deemed safe school with a semi-automatic…but the point is I’m not worried about my safety when it comes to my job. At least I was less-so before yesterday.

 

I might come back to this later, I might not. All in all I just really feel like arming a teacher would be an extreme distraction in the learning environment. As the teacher, you must always be on alert for when a situation like that occurs and then be able to react properly given that situation. As a student, I would not feel comfortable knowing that my teacher had a weapon, regardless of whether they had been trained to use it in life-threatening circumstances or not. You never know when the teacher will be the one to let loose with their government allowed/mandated triggers.

 

One Response

  1. Atlanta '10

    Teach for America does place corps members at Price (had several friends there, and nearly all APS middle and high schools have corps members). To my knowledge Teach for America does not actively avoid schools with high violence; that has more to do with the culture of your school and administration’s response to fighting, cursing out teachers, etc. It’s unfortunately not always what you’d expect.

    I came into Teach for America expecting poverty and academic deficits to be the challenges facing my classroom. Instead, I learned about the many manifestations of poverty and academic deficits. Many kids have given up on themselves…don’t trust or feel threatened by outsiders…are dependent on rote learning to feel successful.

    I hope you have a wonderful experience teaching. I know you must have an incredible track record to this point — I know I did. There will be moments of absolute desperation and ones of intense joy. Teaching is such a roller coaster. Just be prepared for an emotional battle as much or more than an intellectual one.

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a native Texan moves to Atlanta, GA to experience the world of math education


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