Tag Archives: Politics

Make me safe, don’t make me armed: one teacher’s thoughts on school shootings

This past week, although I have not personally endured losing colleagues, friends, students, children of my own, I have had to stand by helplessly and watch as others in my teaching community have. I’ve had to read the horrific accounts from fellow Florida teachers within my ELA community who work at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, hearing how brave they had to be for their students while they endured something no teacher and no child should ever have to endure. I had to learn how these teachers lost their colleagues, the people they’ve been accustomed to working with everyday. I had to hear about how some lost their students, students they have bonded with, have formed relationships with, students who have impacted their lives in some meaningful way. Gone. It seems hard to imagine, I’m sure, especially for anyone working in a non-teaching position. But just picture going to work everyday, whatever your job may be, and pretend someone you’ve worked closely with, have had a working relationship with, and maybe even a friendship, is no longer there. Not because they moved, or got a new job, or just decided that career was no longer for them and quit. They aren’t there to interact with you in your place of work anymore because they are dead. And not dead because they died of natural causes, or a freak accident that no one could have prevented. Dead because of some horrific tragedy that could have been prevented. I’m sure you can at least imagine that.

As a Florida educator, I’m mad as hell. The one place children are supposed to be safe, the one place it’s my job to make sure they feel safe, is no longer safe. As teachers, we have enough to worry about with keeping our classroom managed, with making sure our students are in an environment they feeling comfortable learning in. We have enough to worry about with all the late-night grading and lesson planning, with the endless parent teacher conferences and parent emails, with the never-ending professional development required to keep our jobs, with the second jobs we sometimes have to take to make ends meet because our teacher salaries are inadequate. We have enough. So on top of all the many hats we wear during the course of our day, on top of all the things we have to juggle on a daily basis, now we have worry about keeping our students alive? What. Is. Wrong. With. This. Picture.

Look, I get it. As a teacher, we commit ourselves 100% to our students. We go above and beyond for them. We stay after school and offer tutoring to those kids who just don’t get it. We spend our own hard earned dollars on supplies we need to run our classrooms. We coach sports teams, and lead after school clubs, and give our time to any student who needs it. It’s what we signed up for when we took the job. No one going into teaching assumes it’s a regular ol’ 9-to-5 that doesn’t require any extra effort on our part. I know that. But how dare anyone who’s never set foot in a classroom as a teacher, who’s never experienced even one day in the life of a schoolteacher, come at us and say we are the ones who need to do more. Are you freaking kidding me? We bend over backwards to make sure our students are well cared for, that they have all the tools necessary to succeed. It’s not our job to be armed and ready to ward off any unstable person that decides to come at us with a gun. You want me to be armed as a teacher? Do you even understand what you’re asking of us? This is what you’re asking of us teachers:

  1. Learn how to be comfortable around guns. Because I’m sure as hell not. I respect other people’s right to bear arms, but I don’t like guns and wouldn’t feel comfortable owning one. So good luck getting me over that hurdle.
  2. Learn how to properly use said gun. Let’s say hypothetically I get over my dislike of being around guns. Now I have to be trained how to use the damn thing? And who is paying for that training?
  3. Figure out a place to keep said gun in classroom where no students will have access to it, yet will still be within reach should I ever need it to blow away an intruder. Yeah, this part is a real head-scratcher. So let’s say you convinced me to carry a gun, and you got me the training I need to know how to properly discharge it. Now where the f*ck am I supposed to keep this gun in my classroom? I can’t keep it on my person, because what if some dumb kid (and there are plenty of those in middle school where I teach) decides to be funny and try to grab at it? What happens if that dumb kid accidentally shoots me, or himself, or a classmate with it? Can’t be packing a piece while I’m trying to teach my students how to write a thesis statement. So where do I put it? In a desk drawer? It would have to be locked to prevent those same dumb kids from trying to get at it. So how am I truly supposed to get to it in the event of an emergency that would require it? Oh, and by the way, why the heck am I supposed to be responsible for having a gun?!

It just doesn’t seem feasible, not to mention it’s not something we as teachers should have to do. We shouldn’t have to worry about how we are going to protect our students from murderers. We shouldn’t have to make sure we have a way to defend ourselves when that crazed killer shows up on our campus. As teachers, we have to keep our students safe, yes. We have to keep them safe from bullies. We have to keep them safe from lack of confidence. We even have to keep them safe from their families if they don’t have a stable home life, or keep them safe from themselves if they’re thinking of hurting themselves. We shouldn’t have to keep them safe from disturbed individuals with easy access to a gun.

Guns aren’t going away. Mental illness isn’t going away. I’m not some delusional, irrational person who thinks the answers to all our problems lies in banning all guns. I’m actually a very rational human who just wants my students, and myself, to be safe everyday when we walk into our school. We can have that again if we just reform certain laws, like the ones that allow anybody to purchase any type of gun they please. No average person outside the military needs to own an assault rifle, so why allow them to? Give us better funding to support students with mental illnesses so we can prevent these thoughts becoming a reality. Tackle the issues before they have a chance to manifest into such tragedies. I would rather be armed with knowledge and resources on how to prevent my students from ending up as that crazy ex-student who shoots up a school. I don’t want to be literally armed and just twiddling my thumbs doing nothing, awaiting the day I have to use my gun to fight off a killer. Why can’t we just prevent the killer from manifesting in the first place?

Watching some of these brave teenagers address the president earlier today during the White House listening session brought tears to my eyes. One brother of Meadow Pollack, one of the 17 victims, said we just need to let all these ideas free-fly, that it’s important to let everyone be heard and then decide what to do with the information. How is it that a high school student can be so wise when the politicians we’ve elected to have that same intelligence are incapable? It really shouldn’t be this hard. Schools are supposed to be safe havens. Make them safe for us again. That’s all we want.

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Hey Mr. President, I’mma do me

I just want to make a quick comment about this election. First of all, no, I didn’t vote. I didn’t like my choices enough to vote one way or another, and I don’t believe in voting for the sake of voting. Voting for one candidate because you don’t want the other candidate to win doesn’t make sense to me. But this post isn’t about why I don’t vote (this post, however, is). I can say that if I had voted, I probably would have voted for Hillary, simply because I think she would have done a far better job of actually running the country than that other buffoon (who I still can’t believe was even an option in the first place).

That being said, I know many people are outraged by the outcome of this election. But I have to remind myself at the end of the day that, even though we all have to follow rules and regulations of this country as determined by the federal government (which includes the president), I still get to live my life on a day to day basis and determine how I’m going to act. That includes being a good person, being a positive role model to my students, being a good sister, and a good girlfriend, and a good daughter, and a good friend to all of the people that matter in my life. Even just being a good person overall, morally and ethically, being kind to strangers and being forgiving when it’s due. Accepting and understanding that we are all human, which means we are all flawed. And that’s okay.

This is what truly matters at the end of the day, and I’m not going to change who I am and how I live my life simply by who is holding office in that big white house. And you shouldn’t either. Yeah, it sucks how ridiculous and absurd this election has been from the start, and yeah, the results are even more laughable. And yeah, I’m sure certain things in our lives will be affected and will change at some point when those new laws are passed, and the whole country might go to shit one day because the guy running it can’t even figure out how to buy a proper hair piece. But the only thing that really matters to me at the end of the day is continuing to live my life the way that I do, trying every day to do whatever I can for my family and friends and those around me. Because if you think about our nation’s history, we’ve been through a lot worse. We can overcome these new obstacles because we find new ways to triumph when times get tough. Overall, our nation is filled with brilliant people of all walks of life, people who can think outside of the box and can take situations that may not be favorable and make them into something better. So yes, while I remain stupefied and shocked and angered and (most of all) disappointed that so many of my fellow Americans voted for such an idiot, I’m not worried about the fate of our country. That seems a bit extreme. We still live in one of the greatest countries in the world; we’re not living in a third world country, I don’t feel scared for my life when I leave my house everyday or even when I come home at night. I get to go to my job everyday, work hard making a difference in the lives of young minds, and come home to a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and the relaxing atmosphere of being at home in my own safe space. A lot of people don’t have that, even in this country, so I’m grateful for the things that I do have in my life.

I’m trying to be more positive overall in my life, and that includes this situation right here. I could very easily jump on the bandwagon with all the haters and just be bitter and spew filth from my mouth. But instead I’m going to try and look at it in a positive light, because getting angry over something that I have zero power to change is pointless (because, after all, the election is over now, we had our chance and this is what most of us wanted, apparently). At the end of the day, our country has been through a lot worse. This is not the end of the world. Because, one way or another, we will come out the other side of all of this. We may be different when we reemerge, but we’ll still be intact. Life isn’t perfect, but we can all still find ways to make it wonderful, regardless of who’s in the oval office.

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I don’t vote

I was stopped at the post office today, just passing through on a quick run to drop off a few packages for my LuLaRoe business, by a guy outside asking people to update their voter registration. In a bit of a hurry, I kindly and quickly said “no thanks, I don’t vote” and continued walking. Apparently he wasn’t satisfied with that response, because he replied with “what about the 19th amendment?” To which I answered “I don’t like my choices” and walked inside. When I reemerged from the building on my way back through the parking lot to my car, he said to me “well what about all the local elections, the judges and the school board and all the people responsible for teaching your children?” (this guy was clearly not giving up). I firmly replied that I teach children, so I’m going to focus on that. I did tell him that I appreciated him asking, but I feel like his persistence just brings up a very good point that I believe I’m not alone in feeling. Or maybe I am and I’m the only person that has it wrong, but either way, it’s my prerogative and it’s my basic human right as an American citizen to vote or not vote. It isn’t anybody else’s choice to make but mine.

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people reading this who follow politics on the daily and vote every time there’s an election, whether it’s local, state or federal government, but I’m just not one of those people. And I really don’t care who has a problem with it or not, because again, it’s my decision to make as an individual living in this country. It’s my freedom to choose whether or not I want to vote.

I also want to point out that I’m not one of those people who refuses to vote and then, when people are elected that I don’t agree with, sits there and complains about it. No, I realize that if I’m giving up my right to vote, I’m also giving up my right to complain about who wins. I’m not that much of an asshole.

Up until this point in my adult life, in the years since I’ve turned 18 and have been eligible to vote, I have not agreed with any of the choices for president. This is only the third presidential election that I have been of age for. The first two were obviously when Obama was elected and reelected; both times I did not agree with his win, and both times I also did not like the opposing candidate. So for me, voting for one guy because I don’t want the other guy to win, even if the guy I’m voting for isn’t someone I  want to win either, really doesn’t make sense to me. Sure, maybe voting for the lesser of two evils is the right thing to do, maybe it’s not. All I know is that until I am presented with at least one option that I truly feel confident about voting in to office, I’m not going to participate. It’s just not a good use of my time. And as a very busy middle school teacher, I can’t afford to waste any time on things that I don’t agree with.

For example, where the upcoming presidential election is concerned, I think Donald Trump is a buffoon and I certainly don’t want him running our country, but does that mean that Hillary Clinton deserves my vote? Probably not, and that’s why I’m not voting. I’m simply not satisfied giving my vote to either candidate.

That being said, I understand the point this nice gentleman is trying to make about how I should still participate in local and state government. However, again, I am a very busy schoolteacher who also runs a business of her own on the side, so between all of that, and all of the things that actually pertain to my day-to-day life and responsibilities, taking the time out of my busy life to vote for people that, again, I don’t really know that much about, really just doesn’t seem to make sense to me. In my opinion, and again, this is all my opinion which, by definition, cannot be wrong, so please don’t tell me that I’m wrong in saying any of this (especially considering the whole “freedom of speech” thing). I’m a language arts teacher, I know what opinion is versus fact. Everything that I’m saying right now is opinion, not a fact, you can’t prove it right or wrong, it’s simply how I feel, and you’re allowed to feel differently, that’s why they’re called opinions.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting about opinions versus fact, my opinion is that my one vote is not going to make enough of a difference in the long run. In the grand scheme of things, whoever I could possibly vote for in the local and state government is probably not going to make a difference to the point where my vote is necessary. I realize that sounds pessimistic and ignorant, because if everyone had this attitude and everyone said “oh, my vote doesn’t count it’s really not gonna matter whether I vote or not” then nobody would vote and then change really wouldn’t be able to occur. I already get that. But all I know is that, at the end of the day, I’m a teacher, I’m teaching kids and I’m making a difference and impacting the world on a smaller level. I’m causing change to occur on a smaller level, and that is the most that I can contribute to society.

I also refuse to vote blindly just for the sake of voting. If I don’t know who I’m voting for, or I’m uneducated about the candidates, I would rather not vote than vote blindly just for the sake of putting in my two cents. And honestly, between working 40+ hours a week and trying to have some time for my friends and family on top of all that (because I need to have a life and not lose my mind), I don’t have the time to dedicate to educating myself about the candidates. There are so many people running for so many things I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I see signs every day when I’m driving around, re-elect this person or elect that person for a slew of miscellaneous titles that I’ve never even heard of. So, because I’m uneducated about who they even are, let alone what they’re running for, I elect to not vote blindly. And I’m sorry, but I’m also not going to take time out of my very busy schedule to educate myself on people that, honestly, don’t affect my day-to-day life. I don’t really feel the impact of what they do, and maybe one day I will, and maybe that’s the day that I will change my outlook and I will actually care about voting, but until that day comes, I’m going to focus my energy on the things that matter to me and the people in my life directly. For me, to have the biggest impact on my life and the lives of people around me, I need to be a little selfish in that respect and focus on what I’m doing and how I’m trying to make a difference in this world and for me that means teaching my sixth graders about how to be good people and showing them by example how to live a good life and be moral and have ethics and hopefully one day they will be able to go out into the world and they will be able to create change in whatever way they see fit.

Whenever the topic of politics comes up, especially in regards to people (seemingly) being ignorant and not voting, there’s always going to be controversy, there are always going to be people who don’t agree, and there are always going to be people who want to argue and say that you’re wrong. You can tell me I’m wrong all you want, it’s still not going to change how I think and how I live my life.

I will also say that I appreciate the people who do pay attention to this nonsense, because those are the people who are voting and hopefully putting into office people that deserve to be there. Maybe one day my priorities will change as I get older and I will actually care about this stuff and pay attention more, but until that day comes, I’m happy with how I live my life, even if others think I’m living in a bubble (because it’s a damn awesome bubble). I really couldn’t care less about voting at this point in my life, so thank you sir for offering to update my voter registration card, but I’ll take a hard pass.

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A few of my (ever-delightful) theories on Christmas (that are sure to piss off the Catholics)

Now that Christmas is fully upon us (it’s Christmas Eve already? WTF), it’s time to clear up a few things about the popular holiday. There are more than a few lies going around about this whole Christmas business, so of course, being my typical opinionated self, I figured I’d dabble in my own theories on the joy and wonder that is Christmas.

Santa Claus is supposed to be mysterious and unseen, not ho-ho-hoing at me while I shop for overpriced gifts. I’m all about the real Santa but I’m not too fond of the idea of getting a picture taken with some creepy wannabe at the mall. If you think about it, every department store Santa whose lap you’ve ever sat on was just some creepy fat guy who put on a red suit and fake beard (unless he had a real one, which is more likely these days). Without the red suit, he would just be some creepy fat guy and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t let my kids sit on the lap of someone who is probably a pedophile. Just saying. I wonder if the department store Santas have to endure a rigorous screening process before being hired?

And even if I did agree with the idea of letting my child sit on some strange man’s lap, doesn’t that kind of kill the magic of Santa Claus? Because that child is going to believe one of two things. 1. They are going to think the creepy man’s lap they are sitting awkwardly upon is the real  Santa Claus, thus ruining the magic. You aren’t supposed to see Santa, you’re just supposed to know he’s there and he’s always watching (also creepy, what about when I’m on the toilet? I don’t want him seeing that). Or 2. they are going to know he isn’t the real Santa, because c’mon, how many fake Santas do you see over the course of about two months? They clearly can’t all be the real Santa, so then you have to wonder why are there so many impersonators? And if this is an impersonator, and you are acknowledging the fact that he’s not the real Santa but simply a fraud, what the hell are you doing sitting on his lap? This is just going to confuse kids and make them resent their parents, who have forced them to, essentially, cuddle up to some strange, smelly man they don’t know. Clearly why most photos with Santa end up looking like this:

scared santa

Retail stores invented the idea of gift-giving. Just like most holidays, I’m convinced it’s the retail stores that somehow incorporated the idea of spending money at Christmastime. I like buying people presents; nothing delights me more than watching their faces light up when they unwrap that thing they’ve been hoping for all year. But we live in such a consumerist society that it makes me vomit in my mouth just a teeny bit. I turned on the news this morning only to hear about mass graves in South Sudan, meanwhile people here in my country are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to buy last-minute presents for people who probably don’t deserve them anyway. If we’re going to spend money and give gifts, why not give them to the people that actually need them? A few years ago, I suggested to my family we no longer buy each other Christmas presents. As the baby of the family, it seemed a bit silly to be buying presents for each other when we could be putting that money spent to better use. For the last few years, instead of buying friends and family presents they really didn’t need, I’ve been buying presents to donate to Toys for Tots. So the next time you’re about to ask someone to buy you something for Christmas, maybe think about how lucky you are to have the things you already do have and ask them to spread the wealth, instead.

And for that matter, if you want to argue that the idea of gift-giving came from the idea that three kings (it was 3, right?) brought baby Jesus presents on his birthday, which is “supposedly” why we celebrate Christmas in the first place (tell that to anyone who buys Christmas presents), well then why does everyone else get presents? Shouldn’t we just be buying them for a tiny, baby-Jesus-like person? Or just leaving them in a barn somewhere?

I’m going to hell for that one. Moving on.

Anti-environmentalists started the tradition of the Christmas tree. I think it’s pretty obvious that anyone who hates the environment would decide to chop down an Evergreen and put it up on display in their living room. Now don’t get me wrong, my family and I used to cut down our own tree every year when I was younger, and it was one of my favorite traditions. The lights,  the ornaments, the smell of the pine needles permeating the house. But I would still mourn the loss of that tree’s life, especially once the season was over and we had nothing to do but haul the dying tree out to the woods to rot. It’s very similar to the idea of mourning the turkey I eat on Thanksgiving. I’m still going to eat it, and it’s still going to taste delicious, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the poor bastard, simply because someone long ago decided a turkey would be the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite in your eyes, but I don’t really give a tiny rat’s ass. Besides, this post isn’t about my hypocrisy in life, of which there is probably an abundance, it’s about my theories on Christmas. Anyway, I can’t imagine why people are so eager to destroy the plant and animal life around them, without ever any regard for any other living thing but themselves. It’s like when I am constantly yelling at my students for ripping the leaves off of trees, reminding them that they wouldn’t like it if someone pulled their fingers off one by one. Oh, you don’t want me teaching your child? Get over it.

cat ate birdChristians clearly feel the need to one-up the Jews. Think about it. Jews have 8 days of Hanukkah while Christians feel they need to have Twelve Days of Christmas. Who invented that song, anyway? What the hell is a partridge doing in a pear tree, and why would anyone want that? If you ask me, those are terrible gifts to receive.

I have so many more theories about Christmas, life, the universe, everything… But I think that’s enough to get your own brain thinking as you tear through your presents tomorrow morning. Or at the very least, I’ve given you something to bring to the dinner table tomorrow when you can’t take anymore of your great-aunt’s cheek-pinching or your baby cousin’s crying or your uncle’s inappropriate comments.

Until next year, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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5 should-be requirements to run for president

When the RNC came to town last week, I felt compelled to watch “the baseball glove’s” closing speech (that, and my boyfriend made me). Unsurprisingly, the entire broadcast made me hate politicians that much more (not to mention lose some serious respect for Dirty Harry). I’ve realized the more I watch and follow the politics in this country, and even abroad, the less hope I have for humanity. It’s astounding how much faith we put in politicians. I understand the pressures of being in such a position are extreme and it’s usually easier said than done to follow through on the promises they’ve made us, but quite frankly I’m tired of listening to these egotistical buffoons going on about all the things they will do for us if we elect them into office and then never seeing any follow-through. With the presidental election looming, it’s more apparent than ever that there needs to be a set of obvious requirements the candidates must meet before even being considered to run for office. These requirements should overrule any other conditions involved in determining eligibilty, because, if you can’t meet these simple conditions, I don’t want you running my country. Here are several big ones:

Vote for me. Even a rabid panda would be more successful as president (and yes, that is my head).

1. A presidential candidate must know how many states make up the U.S. This one should be pretty obvious. If you don’t know how many states you’re presiding over, how are you supposed to accurately and positively impact them? Maybe everyone makes mistakes and miscommunicates their thoughts but you’re the president, you’re not allowed to make mistakes.

2. A presidential candidate must be able to produce valid proof of citizenship. I’m still unconvinced of our current prez’s “claimed” place of birth, so this is something that should be worked out before they even enter the race. I’m sorry, but if that’s even a question, if there’s even a shadow of a doubt as to where you came from, you probably shouldn’t be nominated.

3. A presidential candidate must have at least a high school level vocabulary. Maybe it was funny when Bush did it (though, as an English and writing major, I was never laughing), but even with a teleprompter and endless writers at your disposal, you still need to communicate correctly.

4. A presidential candidate must remain humble. No one wants an egotistical butthead running their country, telling them what to do. This one is tough to validate, because few politicians are humble, but this requirement could be waived if they prove worthy in other areas.

5. A presidential candidate must always keep the nation’s best interest in mind. Even if they pass 1-4, it’s very unlikely (at least in recent years) that the president will ever truly put what’s best for us ahead of his own agenda. Which brings me full circle to my original argument that no politician ever keeps their word. So basically we’re all screwed. I think I’ll vote for myself this election.

VOTE BODWELL 2012

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