Written by Victory Jackson (a senior at Little Rock Central High School) and Stacey McAdoo (the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year/Communication and AVID teacher at Little Rock Central High School) and originally published november 15, 20019 on nnstoy.org
“Turn off the lights. Be quiet. Get away from the door. Huddle in a corner or hide under a desk.”
These are familiar words to the nearly 75 million students who practice monthly how to respond if the unthinkable happens. Those of us who live and teach in the inner-city or who grew up with parents who taught us that if someone hits you, you hit them back, intuitively knew those instructions were a joke. Long before law enforcement offered “Avoid. Deny. Defend.” as revisions to the drills, students and teachers were already having these conversations.
If the flies on the walls (or the rodents that hide inside them) could speak, they would regurgitate the stories of students saying, “If we have a school shooter, I’m not staying in class. You can catch me at my house because I’m running,” or the statements from teachers exclaiming, “If something really does happen, it’s more of us than them. Our best bet is to attack. And then run. And when you run, run fast. Run hard. Run far. Run in zigzags. Don’t look back. Don’t try to save anyone. And don’t reach for your phone until you’re miles and miles away.”
“SCHOOL IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SAFE SPACE FOR STUDENTS TO LEARN IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT TENDS TO THEIR NEEDS”
School is supposed to be a safe space for students to learn in an environment that tends to their needs—or one in which they are encouraged to dream. Not a place where students are traumatized, living in fear and forced to draw mind maps of escape routes. Sadly, the later is our reality.
We hadn’t even been in school a good two weeks before there was a massive scare that spread across social media like wildfire about a planned school shooting for Arkansas. And although the FBI said the threat was unsubstantiated, the 22 school shootings that had happened up to that point in 2019 here in the United States had a lot of us on edge. Due to this, gun control has been a hot topic and the cause of numerous debates. In addition to the standard “should guns be outlawed or given more restrictions to make them harder to purchase?” debate, we’re also seriously debating whether or not teachers and school security guards should be armed.
Just the other day the “Power People Poll Question” on one of our local urban Hip Hop and R&B commercial stations asked its listeners if they thought security guards should be armed in schools. Since statistically gun ownership is more common among Republicans, with White men and in rural communities, hearing roughly 80% of the callers (who do not fit in those demographic boxes) agree that security guards in our local schools should “pack heat’ was very shocking.
It is no secret that working (or learning) in today’s educational system is difficult—and that’s before you even throw in the hormones, mood swings, attitudes and emotional baggage of teenagers (and the adults). Everyone knows guns are made to kill. Adding one to this equation would not solve the problem of school shooters, but would most likely magnify it.
“INSTEAD OF ARMING OUR SECURITY GUARDS AND TEACHERS WITH GUNS, LET’S ARM THE CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY WITH RESOURCES TO TAKE CARE OF THE SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF ITS RESIDENTS SO THAT NO ONE EVEN HAS A DESIRE TO PICK UP A GUN IN THE FIRST PLACE.”
The primary job of a security officer is to look out for the well-being and safety of teachers and students: to monitor the premises, carry out investigations and be a liaison to the police, fire and other municipal departments. They may, even from time to time, have to assist in handling emergency disciplinary actions. But security guards are not trained marksmen or officers of the law. If they do not have the power to arrest individuals, why would anyone want to give them a license to kill someone—including possibly even a child? Instead of arming our security guards and teachers with guns, let’s arm the campus and community with resources to take care of the social-emotional and spiritual needs of its residents so that no one even has a desire to pick up a gun in the first place.
*Stacey McAdoo is a communications and AVID teacher at Little Rock Central High School. She holds a bachelor’s in professional and technical writing, a master’s in teaching and is a distinguished public school educator. Some of her most recent awards include being named the University of Arkansas’ Distinguished High School Mentor, Marian G. Lacey/Little Rock School District Educator of the Year, Regional Arkansas Teacher of the Year and the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.*