A few days ago my school was told by the police to go on lockdown due to a developing incident in the area. I was taking a chemistry exam, calculating the binding energy per nucleon of Carbon – 12, when we were told over the loudspeaker that we needed to follow lockdown procedures, and that this was NOT a drill. I crawled under by desk, hugging my knees and wondering what was going on. Thoughts of my school being bombed, or someone running through the halls with a loaded gun filled my mind. I remember my mom, a first grade teacher, telling me about how she was expected to pile her students in a corner, barricade them with a table, and stand before them, guarding them with her life. At what point, I thought, did being a teacher require you to risk your life in front of violent criminals? I don’t remember that being in the job description.
Later that night, I was retelling the story to my parents, adding how we eventually were told that everything was fine, and we resumed our chemistry test, when they told me that things like that never happened when they were in school. That before Columbine, schools didn’t even have lockdown drills. Now this shocked me, because earlier I had imagined my heroes, Laura and Mary Ingalls, going through a “lockdown drill” of their own at the schoolhouse because some wild cowboys were dueling through town and shooting bullets throughout the classroom windows. I guess not. I guess school used to be a safe place, and it saddens me that we’ve lost that.
Today I found out that a student brought a loaded gun to a middle school just down the road from my own school, a school where a few of my friends go. What he was planning to do with it, the police do not know, but we can all guess. Things like this happening in my direct community really drives this issue home.
I’m currently reading I Am Malala, by Malala Yousufzai (congrats on the Nobel Prize), which illustrates the whole other level of violence that comes with education in the Middle East. I am grateful for the uninhibited education I am able to receive, but there are always things to be done, improved, changed.
What are your ideas to improve education on the U.S.? The world?