On school shootings, kids, and teachers.

Hi Scissorheads!  Remember me?  I was Tengrain’s Unindicted Co-Conspirator for several years, and gave up my status when I returned to full-time teaching.  Been lurking periodically, but now I am back for at least one day.  Thanks, Tengrain!

Drill In Progress No One In Or Out - Lockdown SignsI teach in a Texas middle school, and the majority of my students are refugees and immigrants.  I see some serious PTSD on a daily basis.

  • Every year I have students who survived their own kidnappings.
  • I have a student who is emotionally arrested at the age he was when he found the corpses of his family and friends.
  • I have had students who spent time lying in a ditch on one side of a road, not knowing if their parents were alive in the opposite ditch.
  • I have had Central American unaccompanied minors ask why the school doesn’t trust them to go to the restroom and back when their parents trusted them to cross three borders and go all the way to Texas at age 14.
  • I had an Israeli student laugh at the way US schools practice the drills, asking where the gas masks were and why the school wasn’t enclosed.

Like all public schools, my school has lots of drills: fire drills, tornado drills, shelter-in-place drills, and the big kahuna, the lock down drill.

I cheat at lock down drills.  My class practices on our own, with quiet talking allowed. If I know in advance where my most recently arrived refugee students will be for one of the official drills, I (or another adult that child trusts) will be in the same room. I sit next to the student on the floor and whisper, “It’s practice.”

I wrote this about a year ago:

The start of the drill was fine.  We sat on the floor where we weren’t visible from the door or window, and I broke protocol by talking to them softly. “It’s only practice. It isn’t real. It’s OK.”  I did not know at the time if I was telling the truth or not, but the kids were quiet.  Then an administrator walked up to the room and tried to turn the handle. It was locked, but it scared one of the girls. Another girl tried to calm her, but the boy next to her started laughing. When the announcement came on to tell us that we could return to our studies, the beep at the beginning of the announcement frightened the second girl. She cried. A boy cried. The first boy laughed again. We went back to our seats and I explained what the drills were, and why we have them.

Three of the five kids in the class proceeded to tell me about hand grenades, and how they sound when they bomb a building, or near a building, and how the house can shake. Two of the students told me about having woken up in the middle of the night to nearby bombings.*

My refugee students are children. They are scared children who want to feel safe, who want to be safe, who want to be like the kids in their other classes who don’t take the drills quite so seriously.

Until recently, I would have told you and them that they ARE safe, that America can be everything they want it to be — the land of bicycles and iPads and fractions bingo. But the reality is that yesterday Donald Trump closed America’s door to children just like these. He closed America’s door to these children’s aunts and uncles and older brothers and sisters.

America is still the land of bicycles and iPads and fractions bingo, but is it still the land of safety?

* No one knew the phrase hand grenade.  What I heard is that, “Is like a football, American football, but small, and hard like the hand of the door. And when you throw, it go boom. Big boom.  Big house go boom.”

And now, I ask again:  Are my students as safe as I tell them they are? Unfortunately, no, they are not.  They’ve left war zones to come to a country that allows young men to buy weapons and terrorize schools.

How many American PTSD victims do these school shootings create?  How do the children of Newtown and Parkland and San Bernadino and Aztec, NM cope in the aftermath?

Who sits with these kids when their school has the next lock down drill?

And will the damn Republicans ever care more about the lives of children than they do about NRA money?

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11 Responses to On school shootings, kids, and teachers.

  1. The last question is the easiest to answer. No, never.

    Even if they cared minimally about NRA money, they would still care less about children. Once they’re born, they’re of no use to them. (and honestly the only reason they ever care before they’re born is that they’re an easy cudgel to use against their enemies. )

    The NRA heroinmoney has such a powerful grip on their souls that even being the victims of senseless gun violence themselves won’t dissuade them from demanding human blood sacrifices to their great god Gun…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. donnah says:

    I saved this quote and I’ve posted it here and there today.

    “Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.”. Gabrielle Giffords April, 2014

    My heart is broken. Thank you for your moving stories, Tex Betsy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. nonnie9999 says:

    Margery Stoneman Douglas High School is just a couple of miles from my sister’s house. I’ve driven by it a hundred times. I was planning on going to the Walmart where the shooter went after his filthy deed was done yesterday, but I changed my mind. After every school shooting, I was horrified, However, when you see the images on TV, there’s a sense of removal from the reality of it. When you can picture every place they mention on the news and when you wonder how many times you might have passed by one of those kids or their family members at the store or a restaurant, the reality of it can’t be denied, and it’s heartbreaking. I have been alternately sobbing and screaming. I am so profoundly sad and so deeply angry, but I know that my emotions can’t possibly be anything like the family members who are about to place their precious children in the ground or who are sitting next to hospital beds tonight, hoping for the best, I can’t even fathom what the kids who witnessed this horror or who lost friends are going through and will go through for the rest of their lives. What will they see every time they close their eyes? How do we undo that? There are no booboos that can be kissed and made better. There is nothing we can say to make them feel like they are safe.

    I don’t know what we can do for those children or for the adults who were there. The only thing I know we can do is to vote.Vote out every one of those pieces of shit who owe their allegiance to the NRA and don’t give a shit about their constituents. Maybe it’s time that we become one-issue voters during this next election.

    Sorry to ramble. Thank you for your post, thank you for being a teacher, and thank you for actually caring about the kids in your care,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. purplehead says:

    I think media should post photographs of what these young bodies look like after being blown apart by an AR-15. People need to see that reality. Maybe that would rattle some out of their slumber. Maybe.

    Nah, who am I kidding.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your post. You raise some really good points and I think your last one is the one that people really need to get. Every time politicians offer thoughts and prayers and say the same things, but the people left behind are forgotten. They become passengers. No one thinks about how they will cope. Imagine surviving something so horrible and knowing that the people who are supposed to protect you do not care. The President has taken $30m from the very people who ensure that gun laws are loose. He’s signed legislation that makes it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns. With no regards for the families of the deceased or the victims of each shooting. Yet, he’s offering meaningless platitudes that everyone knows he will never act on. It’s sad, it really is.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. edithsilver says:

    So nice to see you back Tex Betsy! You’ve been missed! Sorry about the reason you came back, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fuck it all. America no longer exists as a country of hope. We are now just a country of grinding it out, most of us just a paycheck or two away from homelessness. Now, we try to exist long enough to provide our last dimes to the insanely wealthy in a new gilded age, while our children hope not to be shot in their schools, and our elders hope not to expire in pain and hunger in poverty. It is a return to the worst times of our past. The only escape for most is meth, alcohol, or opioids, all of which are on the rise.

    I am an architect, and I have spent much of my time working on repairing the breaches of stupid destruction of our existing cities and working toward densification and urban infill. My projects dwindle, while I see my colleagues spend their time on the glittering towers and expansive mansions of the wealthy.

    I have a cousin whose family has moved to France, and although she is struggling to get her autistic son proper education, there is no way I can say she is wrong….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Two School Teachers Speak Out On Lockdown Drills – NEWSFUZZ

  9. Fantastic post and insight. I work with many immigrant students myself but not refugees. Great point of view. Sad that this is one more thing our students have to worry about. They have enough problems as it is.


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