It is the nature of a teacher, some would even say (falsely – the science teacher would remind us) in her DNA, to make everyone feel safe and comfortable. After all, everyone learns better when they feel loved, respected, and most importantly – Safe. Every educator knows this. Furthermore, creating the feeling of a safe environment is an expectation the parents (and all taxpayers for that matter) have for their public schools. We are here to sound the alarm and tell you, no matter where you are reading this, be it here in Clark County, or anywhere else in the United States, your child’s school is not safe! But here is the dirty little secret, you already knew that. Until this recent organizing effort by the brave and civic-minded students in Parkland, Florida – your expectation was not that the schools were safe, but rather that they felt safe.
This is not a new phenomenon. Some reading this post are old enough to remember “Duck and Cover” drills in preparation of a nuclear attack. Whenever a history teacher teaches a lesson to students showing Bert the Turtle ducking and covering, the response from students is laughter and disbelief that America was, in their words, “that stupid.” They would ask, how could anyone think hiding under a desk would save them from an atomic explosion? However, these cartoon like explanations for why everyone was going to be okay, created an environment where the community felt their kids were safe in schools. It took that generation of students to come of age, the ones who had to do those duck and cover drills, to demand that their government work with the world to limit, with the goal of eliminating, nuclear weapons across the globe, before the threat of nuclear annihilation was no longer a constant genuine threat.
Fast forward to today. While our children are not ducking and covering to protect themselves from an atomic blast, they are just as unrealistically thinking that hiding in a classroom — or in a closet — or under a desk, will save their lives from a deranged gunman on campus, armed with a weapon of war. Educators are making the same mistake as we did in the past, convincing the public that while these horrible things have happened elsewhere, we take all the necessary steps to keep your child safe at our schools. (See some of the letters sent out by local Superintendents: Evergreen PS Vancouver PS). The message we should be sending is, YOUR CHILD IS NOT SAFE and you should demand strong and sensible action by your government! Maybe then, sensible gun legislation might become a reality. Don’t get us wrong, the teachers and school administrative staff are indeed doing everything they can to try to keep your kids safe, but the actions taken are nearly as laughable as the actions by Bert the Turtle. And up until now, that false sense of security aided in keeping parents from demanding that sensible gun legislation be passed to limit, with the goal of eliminating, gun violence in our schools.
Today, those who were in high school during Columbine or Jonesboro are now teachers and administrators, and have kids in our schools. Today, kids are still facing this same threat, and now the new generation in power, a generation who has grown up in a world where school violence is not even front page news anymore, is demanding something gets done, much like the actions of a previous generation in the waning days of “Duck and Cover.”
This Saturday, March 24th, March for our Lives demonstrations are happening across the country, with the largest one being in Washington, DC. Here in town, Evergreen Public School students, staff, and patrons (not traveling to Washington, DC) are asked to meet at the O.O. Howard House (the office of our congressional representative) at 1:00pm to march to Esther Short Park for a rally at 2:00pm. If you are reading this outside of Clark County, the EEA encourages you to participate in the sister marches across the country. You can find information here. As a union of educators, the Evergreen Education Association has voted to endorse these marches and to help the amazing local student organizers be successful in banding together with their peers to advocate and use their voice on the issue of gun violence in schools. To see our full resolution click here.