For me and my teaching colleagues across Maine, last week was back-to-school week. For us, this means a couple of staff in-service days before students arrive: time to get classrooms set up, hear from administrators about new policies and go over the details of everything from lunch duties to picture day.

But in addition to these routine matters, back-to-school preparation now also includes sessions on what to do if we have an active shooter in the building. We’ll practice barricading classroom doors against an armed intruder and tying tourniquets to keep kids who have been shot from bleeding to death. The idea that this kind of training is necessary would have been inconceivable 25 years ago when I began teaching, but the reality in today’s America is that we have to consider every school a potential site for mass murder.

We practice these procedures because the adults who work in our schools – faculty, staff, administrators and police – are committed to doing everything we can to keep students safe. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of our elected leaders at the national level. The 2019-2020 academic year is poised to be another year when we will witness school shootings all across the country and our federal government will again refuse to enact even the simplest common-sense measures to make it a little more difficult for troubled people to access weapons of war.

Schools are working hard to keep our kids safe, but without help from lawmakers, it’s ultimately a fool’s errand. That we continue to put our teachers and students in this position is unconscionable. As we approach the 2020 elections, it is urgent that we elect leaders who care more about protecting our children than they do about pleasing the gun lobby.

David Farrington

teacher, Gorham High School


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