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Poem by CTA member, Tonya McQuade

There are many things a teacher needs
To nurture student minds –
Pens and pencils, books to read,
And paper, plain and lined.

Computers, too, and art supplies
Can add to student learning;
Calculators, microscopes,
And labs can get brains churning.

Decorations on the walls
And desks with comfy chairs
Can make a classroom welcoming
And show a teacher cares.

Of course, creative lessons plans
Are also quite essential;
And building critical thinking skills
Helps all reach their potential.

But now, some say, there’s something else
Each teacher truly needs –
A gun to ward off shooters
That our violent society breeds.

Why, they say, can’t teachers
All be trained to shoot on sight
Any errant, troubled, angsty teen
Who comes armed for a fight?

The problem’s not the hordes of guns
So easy to access;
Nor the military rifles
That civilians can possess.

The issue’s not our failure
To respond to threats and signs,
Or deal properly with mental health
And emotional landmines.

No! Teachers need more guns
So all those shooters stay away;
Clearly, that’s the answer –
Those clueless people say.

The many secret service men
John Hinckley could not stop
From shooting President Reagan,
Though trained such men to drop.

Thirteen people at Fort Hood –
A military base –
Were killed by one crazed killer,
Though drilled such men to face.

Now, you think, we teachers
Should be armed and at the ready
To fire off a weapon
With a mind and hand held steady?

And where, pray tell, to keep it
So it’s safe from childish hands,
Safe from accidental shootings,
And from bullies and firebrands?

Perhaps inside our desk drawer
Is the place that we should hide it;
Or else, behind the white board
Is the space where none would find it.

Or else, inside a holster,
That we wear beneath our shirt –
Some think that’s the solution
So our students won’t be hurt.

Absurd is that idea!
Horrendous and deranged!
Schools should be for teaching,
Not with prisons interchanged.

Teachers are not wardens,
Nor guards, soldiers, or cops;
We’re trained to nurture children –
Grow their minds to reach the top.

When I see those Florida teens
Raising voices, speaking truth –
I know teachers have done their job,
And I’m inspired by our youth!

Tonya McQuade is a member of the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint UHSD Teachers Association.