On Wednesday, Feb. 14, 17 people were killed in yet another school shooting. On Thursday, Feb. 18, mothers all over the country sent their children to school. My oldest is among those kids who went the day after what marks the 12th school shooting in this year alone.
It’s only February.
But it’s more than the children who are on my mind this morning. It’s school teachers, as well. Again, in the aftermath of the tragedy, we learned that there were heroes among the staff. As so often is the case, we see that teachers and staff sacrificed their lives in order to save the children whose very lives with which they were suddenly charged. There are always acts of heroism from those men and women who get up every day and teach our kids, well aware that they are responsible for more than just math facts and sight words.
I remember reading how, after yet another school shooting, in April 2017, the police found students behind a teacher who had been shot and killed. She had maneuvered her students behind her and stood in front of her kids in the face of a shooting rampage. What is so significant about that is not just the bravery, but that I don’t think her bravery made her unique among teachers. I think most of the men and women who teach would have done the same; that in that terrifying situation, they would have had the courage to move their kids behind them.
Because that’s what our kids become, the moment they walk into the classroom: their kids. They don’t belong to us during those hours spent in a classroom. They belong to the teachers and the staff of the school, and those people love and care for our kids to the point that they instinctively place their own bodies in front of their children, the same as a parent would.
We complain about teachers, though. We complain about their unions. We complain about too much testing then we complain that the testing scores aren’t high enough. We make jokes about their summer vacations and shrug off the long days and extra nights and Sundays they devote to grading and planning. We complain about participation awards and then we get mad when our kids don’t get a trophy.
It’s hard to put a child on the bus. The fact that school shootings seem to occur so frequently, while Congress refuses to even consider action, makes it even more so. I think our kids deserve more than just thoughts and prayers. I don’t have the answers, but I think our kids deserve better. I think our kids deserve the best.
But I know that, when it comes to teachers, most of our kids are getting just that — the best.
Because while we complain about all the things we think teachers should be doing, these are the same men and women who have placed themselves in front of our children to save them from bullets. Who, today, in the aftermath of yet another shooting, knowing that nothing will change, knowing that there is little chance that legislation will be enacted to even attempt to protect them or their kids, will get up and restock their cabinets of food with the granola bars they buy in order to stave off hunger for their students, who yesterday, bought some extra mittens on clearance for the children who are without.
Today, those teachers got up and went to school and loved our kids exactly the way we want them to be loved, protected them the way we would want them protected, for 7.5 hours a day, five days a week. They did it even knowing that no action will be taken to better protect them or our children. Their children.
They deserve better.