Home > Uncategorized > Massachusetts Teacher Laments Her Role as Human Shield, Mourns Her Student’s Loss of Innocence

Massachusetts Teacher Laments Her Role as Human Shield, Mourns Her Student’s Loss of Innocence

December 29, 2018

I read with sadness a recent Washington Post op ed by Revere MA teacher Sarah Chaves written in the wake of the report of the Trump administration on how to deal with school shootings. Titled  “I’m a Teacher. Don’t Ask Me to Stop a Mass Shooting. I Can’t” with a sub-heading that reads “The Trump administration is standing behind the idea of arming educators. But I don’t want to be a hero”, Ms. Chaves describes the pain she feels because she has no idea how she would respond if a shooter was to enter her school, the sadness that permeates the school whenever they are required to perform a drill of some kind, and the loss her students feel because they have been educated in schools where fear is a constant condition.

But in addition to her feelings of pain and sadness, she also feels a sense of anger and bewilderment because gutless politicians are willing to put courageous teachers on the front lines. She writes:

The (Trump administration’s) report had little to say about gun control. Instead, it urged schools to defend themselves with more guns, echoing statements President Trump has made numerous times since 17 students and staff members were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Armed teachers, not more thoughtful gun laws or comprehensive mental health care, are apparently the answer. We are the ones tasked with stopping a mass murderer.

Instead of hiring more mental health counselors, more “good guys with guns” who cannot possibly man every doorway in every school in America, politicians in both parties have decided that making local decisions about arming teachers is a better path than passing national laws that might make it more difficult for anyone to purchase any weapon they want.

The result? As Ms. Chaves eloquently describes it:

…every day I feel closer to being thought of as armor for stopping a gunman instead of an educator. Every day, each state looks less “red,” less “blue.” Instead, the country has turned a deep shade of purple, an overwhelming bruise of hurt and loss.

And she offers this poignant description of how her attitude towards shootings has changed over the past several years:

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, a shooting that feels like a lifetime ago because of the number of massacres since then, I held a gathering with my ninth-grade students. They spoke of their sadness, their anger. I spoke with tears in my eyes.

“You know I would do anything I could to protect all of you,” I said.


That morning, my students met me with hugs for my selfless words, but with each shooting, with each added ounce of blood that spills, I feel that selflessness waning, feel my fear rising. I have envisioned countless scenarios. I have mapped out escape routes, hiding spots, defensive talking strategies. But in each imagined scene, I don’t get deemed a hero. My picture doesn’t appear on cable news stations across the country. There are no vigils held in my honor. I survive. That’s all.

Teachers across this country have to deal with the sadness and anger their students feel, and reconcile that with their own sense of “waning selflessness”… a sense of selflessness that is exacerbated by the constant drumbeat of the politicians who decry them as being selfish while accepting the blood money of the NRA and echoing that organizations demand for more armed personnel in every nook and cranny of our country.

Here’s hoping that 2019 will bring about a change in our thinking about guns in school and guns in our country.

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