As far as I’m concerned, no teacher goes into a classroom without concealed weapons. I know I never have. Chalk is a bullet in the right hands. Students have no idea what I’m up to or whether what I’m teaching them is algebra or how to live. They don’t get either at home. Where the district has it wrong is making me conceal my actual gun: they let me carry it to make the students safer; the policy makes that clear; so aren’t things even safer if the kids know I’m carrying? I know it makes me feel safer. Anyway, it’s not as if I could hide this bulge for long. The kids I need to worry about can smell the oil on the cylinders, just as I will smell theirs the day they think they’re too smart for me. The training was a joke. If I’m not already responsible, I wouldn’t have a permit in the first place. What I do is show it, to let them know there’s a willing readiness to balance anything they might bring to class. On your ankle today, sir? they ask me. Under your arm? At the hip? They don’t get the answer until they perform academically. I tell you, the kids we lost last year were casualties of academic failure. The shooters thought the only way to challenge authority was to shoot. Of course they came from broken homes. What home isn’t broken? We teachers have to raise a generation that isn’t taught anything, they’re only sold. From me they get nuance. From me they learn that authority is a matter of negotiation. We don’t just question it, we defy its right to exist until it proves itself. And extra credit for anyone who can make it into school with contraband.

Copyright © August 17, 2008 David Hodges

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