Dennis Danziger would like us to all sing along in irony at the idea of arming classroom teachers with guns.
Whenever I enter a crowded place, a movie theater, a mall, a restaurant, the classroom at the public school where I teach, I think of Newtown, Connecticut. Of that cold-blooded slaughter and how all of us, regardless of political inclination, remain vulnerable to such an attack.
I think of how our elected officials in D.C. have talked of protecting school children and the rest of us from the next spray of bullets, yet it seems likely that the 113th Congress will fail to pass gun control legislation that will make us significantly safer.
Of all the talk of how to lessen these random acts of carnage, the most bizarre idea, which came from the National Rifle Association, was to arm classroom teachers.
I teach in an urban high school. And over the past few years I’ve watched as my profession has been deliberately and systemically attacked by pundits and politicians, editors and journalists, filmmakers and hedge fund managers.
Their simplistic narrative has become accepted as truth—the failure of the American public school system is the fault of bad teachers.
That’s their mantra and it’s worked.
Go ahead, ask someone what’s wrong with public schools and I bet you their first response isn’t poverty, or kids living in war zones, or overcrowded classrooms, or lack of funding, or educational apartheid within public schools, or the economic apartheid practiced by private schools.
I bet most would say something like, “We need to get rid of the bad teachers.”
Over the past few years I’ve watched many of my colleagues, the good and the not so good, lose their jobs due to budget cuts. I’ve watched as our benefits have been cut. And I know that our pensions which we’ve worked and paid for will be slashed by the time we retire. The contracts we made with our communities have been broken.
Forget the reasons why.
But consider this.
America has scapegoated its public school teachers and blamed them for the nation’s educational crisis. America has bullied its public school teachers so that the entrepreneurial class may swoop in and rake in bucket loads of cash off the privatization of public schools.
So be it.
But also consider this.
When you lump people together, label them, degrade them, take away much of what they’ve worked for, including their dignity, why would you then turn around and give them a handgun?
Which, let’s face it, would be paid for by the government.
Because you can’t expect all 3.2 million of us teachers to bring our own weapon to campus.
And bullets? Did the NRA consider bullets?
How many bullets (also government issued) would each of us teachers be issued? Would it be per semester? Per career?
And my god, the paperwork.
You know that every time one of us teachers squeezes off a shot, we’re going to have to fill out a report. In triplicate.
And answer to a panel.
A new bureaucracy of government workers.
And I thought these people favored smaller government.
I’m not sure why anyone thinks it’s a good idea to arm teachers but with that thought in mind I dedicate this song to the visionary leadership of the NRA.
(Please note, if you do not understand irony, skip and read the end)
If I had a Handgun
(Sung to the tune of “If I had a Hammer” by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger. Video below if you’ve forgotten the tune.)
If I had a handgun
I’d load it in the morning
I’d tuck it in my waist band
And head off to class
I’d be feeling macho
I’d be feeling cocky
I’d sense the fear in my students and their homies
In and out of my class
When I heard that first bell ring
I’d button up my sweater
And cover up my gatt
So no one’d know I’m strapped
I’d reek of danger
I’d give no warning
I’d bark orders at my students and their homies
Which they’d best obey in and out of my class.
If someone was misbehaving
First thing in the morning
All the way through sixth period
In and out of my class,
I’d tell’em to zip it
I’d give them one warning
Else I might go all vigilante
In and out of my class.
Well I’ve got a Glock
And a clip with 33 rounds
And I’d best get some respect
In and out of my class
It’s the handgun of justice
It’s the bullets of freedom
It’s a new way of dealing
With America’s school kids
All over this land.
Wouldn’t we all be better off, safer, if the 113th Congress voted to reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994?
That’s what the majority of Americans want.
If only our politicians would put the lives of their constituents ahead of raising funds for their next election.
If only our representatives would remember the fallen children and teachers of Newtown, Connecticut, and Columbine, and Virginia Tech, and Chardon and of so many other schools and take action to honor them.
April 2, 2013
Footnote: According to Pew Research Group poll report on 1/14/2013 55% of Americans support an assault weapon ban.
photo: scubabix / flickr