President Trump, I heard about your offer to allow teachers to carry guns in schools. You even offered us training to be an expert in the use of them, and we will get a bonus, too! That is a first for this teacher. After all, bonuses for experts in the educational field are few and far in-between. Let me consider your offer—and I’m sorry it will take me just a second to decline. I just don’t want it.
Although you are willing to train us as experts in gun use, you fail to recognize we are already experts in our craft and that includes much more than wielding a gun—it is about wielding a sword and holding a shield to protect our students, teach them and provide encouragement when they don’t see it anywhere else.
Each day I greet my students and help them explore and understand their world while I encourage conversations around important events in history that shape our society. I hug them when the tears flow, high five them when they reach a goal, laugh at their jokes and groan at their puns, hand out snacks from my desk drawers for those that don’t have enough food, and talk about their dreams when they pop in at lunch. I wish them a great day and tell them to be safe.
Mr. President, I am not interested in being trained as an expert in gun use. You see, my day will not include placing a gun in my tote bag among the papers to be graded, nor does it include strapping it across my body to be worn all day while teaching. There are too many “what if’s” associated with that scenario.
What if a student got a hold of it? What if it went off accidentally? What if I hesitated before pulling the trigger in a true attack?
And even if I did decide to carry, the fact is, a handgun is no real match for an assault rifle.
Mr. President, I challenge you to put these federal dollars you promise as a bonus into real places that need them. How about:
- Work with others to develop and implement reasonable and well managed laws around gun acquisition, storage and training.
- Invest more money in mental health and social service programs that support our students and families that are struggling during your administration.
- Invest in quality programs and exemplary curriculum that can be implemented in schools or extracurricular programs that promote equity, eliminate hate, and prevent bullying in any format.
Mr. President, I am certain you believe that it is a critical time and we have to be the catalysts for change or you wouldn’t be commenting on this.
None of these solutions can work in isolation. As a country we must commit to these actions and more. Are you willing to do that? Can you put federal dollars on the table while you are speaking of solutions?
As it relates to your current offer, no thank you Mr. President. I will never carry a gun on school campus, accept money to do so, or be trained as an expert. I am trained to care about and teach children. Maybe that is what you and other leaders should look at before you suggest another gun arrives on school grounds, lawfully or not.
Michelle Pearson is the 2011 Colorado State Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. She is a middle school social studies teacher in the Adams 12 Five Star School District in Thornton, Colorado, where she has been teaching for 25 years.