By Javier Aguirre
This is an open letter to all legislators, school administrators, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the federal government. The rush to implement new gun laws and new security measures in schools as proposed by the NRA is, with no disrespect intended, ludicrous. To say that new gun laws will reduce or stop shootings is like saying that building safer cars will eliminate driving accidents. The seeming connection is a symptomatic façade covering the causes.
The state of the union—economically, socially, institutionally and religiously—is a result of the lack of social progress in today’s society. The old adage that “guns don’t kill people, people do” holds true throughout history. The usual triad that is responsible for promoting moral standards—schools, government and church—has proven that their lax approach to upbringing has proven to be a failure when it comes to developing children into young adults.
School administrators should face up to the fact, as hard as it may be for them, that schools are not promoting moral standards. The very fact that schools are surrounded by fences and patrolled by armed police officers should be evidence that behavior and attitudes that result in bullying and campus violence are the problem, not incompetent teaching.
The call for greater security measures on schools only implies that schools have lost control of their environment. This call implies that learning institutions have become battlegrounds with disruptive and dysfunctional students on one side, the school staff on the other and the innocents in the middle. Let us recognize that the problems society faces today are the result of actions by graduates of American schools.
Note the extent of academic icons—teachers, coaches, university presidents—who have been accused or indicted of child abuse and other criminal activity. Note also the number of religious leaders—priests and evangelists—also accused of illegal actions. Note the number of professional banking and financial leaders—bankers, investment leaders, corporate CEOs—who have engaged in criminal activity. All of these are graduates of yesterday’s graduating classes. Let us not exclude the policy makers who always find room to write and implement a new policy whenever a crisis happens, simply because the policies they wrote to prevent that same crisis did not work.
There is a solution to stopping the downslide that society is currently in, albeit not a popular one. It deals with accountability. Political leaders need to be held accountable for their staff not doing their job effectively. Elected officials who appoint or hire staff to deal with problems should be solving them, not simply maintaining them for the next term or for the next elected official. In this respect, the national secretaries of Education, Labor and the Treasury are clearly not doing their jobs. Why does the President continue to keep them in office? Schools are failing, unemployment is rampant and financial institutions are being paid to do—what? With the number of foreclosures and the Band-Aid approach to appease those who actively seek justice from the government, the role of financial institutions is clear.
At the local level, parents should be able to sue school districts for enforcement of unequal, not illegal, rules and laws. A parent must send their child to school or be threatened with possible incarceration. The child is placed in a toxic environment that includes violence, bullying and a faulty education. Yet, when the school fails to provide the requisite learning, the child is blamed for not learning. When the child is injured or possibly killed, the schools claim that they are not responsible for the incident—society is. When a child graduates from high school with the reading level of an 8th grader, the schools wipe their hands. When parents are required by law to send their child to school, the least the parents should expect is a safe environment. The schools’ response: fencing, weapons checkpoints, security guards and language that states the possession of a weapon is a crime. In this respect, local superintendents are clearly not doing their job.
Future school tragedies will not stop with more armed guards on campus, the implementation of new curriculum changes or more computers in the classroom. The need is not for more revenue or smaller classrooms. These are symptoms. The need is to change the school environment, not the schooling process. The future graduates must be more moral, more mature and more intelligent than today’s leaders.
Javier Aguirre has a master’s in education assessment and evaluation. He has been in education for more than 30 years. He is a policy analyst, community activist and outspoken advocate for promoting a true learning environment for kids who want to learn. He believes in solving tomorrow’s problems, today.