Dear President Trump,
Let me start off by saying this – I voted for you because I believed in you. I believed you couldn’t be bought like other politicians because you already had enough of your own money. I believed you had enough business sense to turn our economy around. Since you raised such a smart and independent daughter, I believed you would be a feminist. And Mr. Trump, I still believe in you. If you want to arm teachers and the research supports that arming teachers will save more lives and stop attackers from harming my students, my name will be the first on the list to go through training. I will be the best teacher-turned-warrior that I can be. I will do whatever it takes to protect the children that I love so much. If the research proves it is effective and the laws pass, arm me to protect my students.
We need to talk. There are many other things we need to arm our teachers with before we send them off to police-like academies to learn how to serve and protect America’s future. There is a serious issue going on with the teaching community and the rest of the world. So before you put weapons in our hands-
ARM ME with books for my classroom. Arm me with multicultural literature so I can educate my students about those that are different than them. Allow me to open the world of diversity to my low- to middle-class rural white school district. Let me teach my students about other children all around the world. Arm me with books to teach them that no matter what color the child’s skin in the book is, they are more like that child than different. Allow me to teach my children that we all share similar struggles and the human race can come together as one. If my students are more accepting of diversity, maybe my students can help to be the change to rid this world of the hate that brings guns into the hands of a white boy to open fire on a black church – to open fire on an innocent group of people.
ARM ME with a guidance counselor that has time to do what he/she is there to do. Our guidance counselor gets pulled to teach classes when we don’t have enough substitute teachers. This takes the precious time that she has to work with students on problem-solving skills and social skills. When she is teaching 5th grade math because the teacher called off sick we can’t find a substitute, she is taking time out of her office hours. She is unable to counsel little Jimmy whose daddy beat him last night and the kids are making fun of him because his clothes are dirty. She is unable to talk to the group of 4th grade girls who are bullying each other and teach them the skills to stand up for themselves and communicate in a positive manner. She is too distracted to see that Kevin is starting to withdraw from his peers and draw violent scenes on the inside of his notebook. She doesn’t have time to meet with the parents that are concerned that their daughter started writing about suicide in her diary. Arm us with a guidance counselor that can do her job.
ARM ME with a school psychologist who is able to take the time to screen our kids for mental illnesses and conduct disorders so that teachers can provide interventions early on to meet their specific needs. Allow her to come into our classrooms to work with us on ways to adapt our teaching to meet the needs of our diverse learners. Keep our school psychologist out of her office pouring over professional development mandates that you continue to slam on her desk.
ARM ME with enough dry erase markers so that I don’t have to spend half of my class period trying to scrounge up enough markers so that Sarah and Dante don’t have to do their work on a piece of paper instead of a whiteboard like the rest of the kids because their parents can’t afford groceries, let alone school supplies. Arm me with scissors, glue, crayons and time to do collaborative artwork to help my students express themselves.
ARM ME with gym class, library, art, music, theater. Give these kids time to be creative. Stop replacing school plays with standardized testing preparation. Allow these kids to be kids instead of forcing them to become robots, programmed for proficiency on tests OR ELSE you will take more time off of recess to BRIDGE THAT GAP. By placing more stress for success on these students, we are causing more anxiety and taking away constructive ways to release their emotions. Arm me with play practice times, arm me with art classes, arm me with recess.
ARM ME with discipline for disruptive students. Arm me with administration that supports their teachers and doesn’t cower when a parent walks into the office. The first time I was punched by a child, I was told, “We have to be careful, his dad is on the school board.” No! By allowing these students to get away with their actions, we are not teaching them accountability. By allowing these students to assault their teachers and peers, we are not teaching our students to value life. By allowing these students to get away with everything because of a diagnosis some doctor gave them, we are not teaching them to use diplomacy to meet their needs.
ARM ME with repercussions for parents and students who do not follow the rules. Arm me with policies that hold parents accountable for their child bullying other children, destroying property, and not completing their assignments. Hold parents accountable for their child’s actions. Hold parents accountable to be part of their child’s life, to make sure they are doing their homework, and to force parents to talk to their children about bullying and do something about it. Don’t allow parents to bully the school with lawsuits and defamation. Hold parents accountable for their offspring.
ARM ME with parent-teacher development meetings. Arm us with the ability to hold workshops with parents to teach them about the Common Core, to teach them about how to help their child at home, and to work alongside them as we try to mold their child into citizens of the world. Arm me to build a relationship with our parents so that we can be a team.
Most importantly, Mr. Trump, ARM ME with the time to develop relationships with my students. Give me the time to learn about their likes, families, and fears. Give me the time to let them know that I care about them as a human being instead of a statistic on a standardized test. Let me be the first line of defense. Let me be able to know when something isn’t right and be able to have that rapport to talk a student down from doing something drastic. Allow me to be the one to care for them. Allow me to be the person they can go to when their world is falling apart. Arm me with the time to be their teacher and their support person.
Mr. Trump, arm me with everything I need to be the best teacher I can be before you arm me with guns. Arm me to save these kids.
All of my love,
The Teachers of America