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Editor’s note: In a listening session with survivors of gun violence at the White House this week, President Donald Trump said he’d be open to considering a proposal to arm school employees who have experience handling guns. Many teachers have taken to social media over the last few days to protest against that kind of policy, using the hashtag #ArmMeWith — and filling in the blank with something other than a weapon. Mike Conrad, a teacher at Royal Oak High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, wrote this piece on Facebook in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and discusses why he does not support teachers carrying weapons in school.
I am a teacher. I have a bachelor’s degree in my content area. I have 19 years professional experience in my content area. I hold a master’s degree in delivering that content to students. And I have eight years of experience delivering that content to students. That is what I do and I think I do a damn good job.
What I do NOT have is the experience, the training, the knowledge, nor the desire, to be an armed defender against an assault weapon while trying to deliver my subject area content to my students. Nor should my students be under the perception that at any given time I may be called upon to draw and fire that weapon to protect them while they attentively sit in my classroom learning that content.
If you feel otherwise I challenge you to spend a day shadowing a teacher, preferably a teacher who teaches small children. And at the end of that day ask yourself if adding a gun to the hip of that teacher makes any student feel safer. I have asked this question to hundreds of students: “Would you feel safer knowing that I or any teacher were armed?” Not one student has ever responded with a yes. Most said they would feel less safe.
If I ever have the privilege of having any of your children sit in my classroom in the future, I promise you that I will do everything in my power to make them feel, and believe, they are in a safe environment. But it is not my responsibility to be the armed front line of defense of an active school shooting against an automatic or assault weapon. There are many steps that can be changed before that event happens to make sure that an armed teacher never becomes a reality.
The PBS NewsHour’s Teachers’ Lounge blog, written by teachers or school-related staff, gives the public a glimpse into how current events affect life inside schools. Sign up for the PBS NewsHour Education mailer here.
Mike Conrad teaches video production and film studies at Royal Oak High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. He is a PBS NewsHour Students Reporting Labs connected educator and wrote this piece independently from his work in that program. Conrad is in his eighth year teaching.
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