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 [Please note this is a two part question.  Please read both parts before responding to either.  Thanks!]

Time for some basic education. Please settle in for a while.

Nineteen elementary students were slaughtered a few days ago by Salvador Ramos, who, on his 18th birthday, legally purchased an AR-15 rifle. Then he bought another one. Then he legally obtained 7 high-capacity magazines that held 30 rounds each. You know the rest.

If you’ve been watching the news, you know that the standard line of “thoughts and prayers” is rolling out from the usual suspects. You also probably know that the next standard line that has been trotted out is “we need to arm teachers” and make every school like a military installation with armed guards around it. I haven’t weighed in on this particular piece of nonsense in the past, but I think it’s time to point out some things that you may not have thought about.

About 14% of all teachers are physically assaulted every year. It goes with the job. Every teacher has to be aware of the distinct possibility "It could happen to me." So, for example, if your district has 1000 teachers, between 100 and 150 of them may have been physically assaulted if your district is “average.” But what if your district has a large number of at-risk students, students who may or may not spend as much time on the streets as they do in school? Don’t you think those districts have a higher incidence of assaults on teachers? Of course they do.

In addition to all the regular preparations that teachers make, just as I did for 34 years, they have to have in their minds that there is a possibility, no matter how remote, that there will be an active shooter situation in school that day. I thought about it every school day since Columbine happened in April, 1999. In my mind, I made mental preparations for what *I* would do to protect my students. In the old high school, I had a room right by the main entrance to the building. I kept the door locked. I put black construction paper over all the windows to reduce what a shooter might see from the outside, but I said it was because I needed to darken the room for my use of a projector. I planned to overturn tables in the writing lab and gather the students behind them until I had the opportunity to safely move them out of the room and through a locked door and down a set of steps that led to a utility room that most people didn’t even know existed. I had a key to that door. Every time we had a fire drill, I insisted that my class stay together and report to me outside; and as I left the building, I scanned the tree line on the property adjacent to the school for a possible shooter. At the new school, my first floor classroom was an easy target from outside and from the hallway. There was little I could do to prepare for an active shooter there, and that was a nagging worry.


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