I’ll begin by saying I’m not an organizer and have never organized a protest of any sort that I can recall. What I’m about to propose I freely give the mantle for someone else to hang and run with it.
I’ll also say what I’m about to propose is radical, out-of-the-norm in many ways, and does have risks, but with the potential of great rewards in the long-term.
It is time for all 3,700,000 teachers, and the 3,700,000 other adults working in schools, plus the approximately 105,000 school board members, to stand up and make their voices heard. Plus the many workers who work in education at the local, state and federal levels, along with the millions of parents who are wondering why we haven’t enacted regulations when it comes to assault-style weapons that are killing their children in one of the places that should be the safest to be.
Our voices need to be loud and clear, we are sick and tired of being scared of being gunned down in our work place (I’m sure this isn’t limited to education anymore). We are sick and tired of scaring our children and making them afraid to be in schools. We are sick and tired of having our kindergartener’s come to school with bullet proof backpacks (that alone is a travesty). We are sick and tired of active shooter drills.
We are tired of PTSD and stress-related illnesses due to all of the above and the many other things educators now have to do. Things like teaching basic manners, maintaining calm when a child is tearing up the classroom while yelling she wants to kill someone in the room. Of having to teach a child respect and how to get along with their peers. Of having to teach parents how to be respectful and no, their child is not a perfect angel after all. Of how to barricade a room, walk through metal detectors, keep doors locked at all times. And the list goes on.
It is time for our collective selves to be radical, be a little selfish, and be heard by staying home from work until there are gun and related regulations that majority of us want:
- Increased spending for mental health issues (89%)
- Require background checks for private and gun show sales (83%)
- Create a national “red flag” law (72%)
- Require a license before fun purchases (72%)
- Ban the sale of high capacity magazines (61%)
- Ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons (57%)
It is very hard, in our hyper-partisan politics, to get such high numbers of support for anything.
I know what I suggest is very scary, and there is risk involved. And, if we collectively do this as teachers have done in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Los Angeles and Denver, we can get results.
The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers and all local unions need to put their collective strength together to make this happen. The Teamsters, AFSCME, SEIU, UFCW and the many other unions should also support this as it is their wives, their daughters, their husbands, their sons, their moms, their dads, and most importantly, their children who are in schools every day. All retired educators would hopefully help as well by standing in front of schools, newsrooms, state houses, Congress and the White House, with signs of support.
All of us should send a message to Congress and the President, until at least the top four regulations above are signed into law effective immediately, making it safe for all of us, but especially our children, then school will not be taking place.
Yes, this will cause consternation for schools and parents and teachers and students. And yes, I believe it can be done if we work collectively, boldly, radically.
All of us deserve to be safe when we are out in public living our lives.
To me though, the most important place to be safe, free of fear of an AK-47 or AR-15 gunning down our children before they have even had a chance to fully experience life, is the main and utmost reason to send a collective and strong message to Washington.
We need to essentially say, as was yelled out windows in the movie Network, “I’m as mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”