My Convertible Life

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Moral Monday: Safe Schools

I wasn't at yesterday's Moral Monday rally. But that doesn't mean I'm not outraged. Unfortunately, much of what I'm worked up about won't fit on a protest sign. Starting this week, I'm going to attempt a Monday post in solidarity with those protesting at the NC legislature -- I realize it's not the same as getting arrested for the cause, but at least it's something.

So much in education policy seems to fall according to political lines. Democrats want more funding; Republicans want more competition. Democrats claim schools are doing well; Republicans claim schools are failing. Democrats want to believe that the latest big idea will save public schools; Republicans want to close them all down.

Okay, that's a wild exaggeration. But you get the idea.

The sad thing is that I honestly believe most Republicans and Democrats -- and the Independents and unaffiliated -- want the same big-picture things when it comes to public education. Safe schools. Quality instruction. Graduates with marketable skills.

Of course, the devil is in the details.

When I hear my state legislature talk about placing armed security guards in schools at the same time they want to cut teacher assistant positions from the budget and increase class sizes, I know they've completely missed the point. You simply can't cut teacher and teacher assistant positions and claim to want safe schools.

For a moment, let's forget about the academic, social or emotional reasons why you might want your young child to be in a elementary classroom with, say, 20 classmates, a licensed teacher and a licensed teacher assistant -- forget about the opportunities for enrichment or additional support. And forget about the professional reasons why you might want a teacher to have working conditions that don't include managing, say, 28 six-year-olds without any additional staff.

For a moment, let's just think about this in terms of security. Having more teachers in the classroom helps keep children safe.

In catastrophic situations, teacher assistants make it possible to protect more children. Think back to some of the horrific school tragedies of the past year in places like Newtown, Connecticut, or Moore, Oklahoma, where teachers, counselors and administrators risked their own lives to protect the children in their schools.

One of the recurring thoughts for me as I read all the stories of heroism shining out on those unspeakably dark days is, "How do you decide?" If you're the teacher in those classrooms, how do you decide which kids you can hold onto in the storm or which ones you can hide in the closet while the school is in lockdown.

Extreme? Sure, and thankfully so. But it's still our reality.

Even under more ordinary circumstances -- ones where students are misbehaving, bullying or (in today's softer parenting language) simply "making bad choices" -- teacher assistants make a difference for security. It can be challenging for teachers to ensure that all students feel safe when it's a large class and there's no teacher assistant.

Another professional adult who also knows the students well -- not just a parent volunteer (as great as they can be) -- makes it possible for one teacher to address the threat while the other adult continues to lead the class. Anytime you can have another set of eyes, ears and hands in the classroom, every child is safer.

So here's my proposal for the Republican-led legislature and Governor's office as they hash out this proposed budget... Remember all that talk about wanting to ensure that our schools are safe places to learn? How about you connect that rhetoric with your speeches about job creation and start by finding funds to hire even more teacher assistants to help staff North Carolina's classrooms.


  1. I would like to comment that in catastrophic situations an armed guard could also save lives and maybe even take care of the intruder before he gets to the classroom.I would like you to go and ask all the children's parents that have lost lives in schools and ask them if they would rather have an armed guard or a teacher assistant protect their children from a peron that has an machine gun.I am also going to comment on the teacher assistant and if that is needed for our school system. We had our kids enrolled in the Wake county school system for two years and then decided that it was not working out for our kids and moved them to another option. They are know enrolled in a school that does not have assistants and are thriving and the class size is 25.This classroom is also more diversified than the classroom they had at public school.This is an example of what they are proposing works. I also want to know what your stance is for school choice for those that would like a chance to pick a different school?I think it is very arrogant that one would think they know what is right for the children of NC. We as citizens of this state need to educate parents more and what is required of them to help our children.We should not think that the state is the answer. This is our requirement as parents to make sure our children our learning and we are working with them daily on their education.This is why the school our kids go to is thriving. We have wonderful teachers in this state and we have all the tools our kids need to learn and to be productive citizens. We need to educate the parents and what is required of them.This all starts in the home and not at the school. When we were in the system we saw first hand the issues the system has and you are correct that it's not a political issue. I will also say that we live in a Democratic society and we elected the people that are know in power and many of us believe what they are doing is right. I get so tired of people being elected to office and then the party that loses thinks they should not move forward with their agenda. This is why our school board has been in the national news because of the way the Democratic side acted when they lost control and then when they regained control they made politcal decisions. I am going to end by saying that it is arrogant to think that we know how this should be decided for the children of NC. We should give the people that were elected a chance and not assume they are wrong.Then the side that loses think that throwing money at the issue makes it better and that is not the solution.We need to make better decisions and remember that Democrates have been in control in this state for over a hundred years and we have issues that need to be addressed. That is why we are having this debate and the system has not been as successful as we would like. It is time to try a different approach and until we try another way we will never know if it works or not. If they are wrong I will come back to this page and admit I was wrong.

  2. The comment you got is so far to the right they are over the edge. We must stop taking money out of our education system we must however make sure that we only have great teachers in the classroom and we must hold PARENTS accountable

  3. How about the Dems taking money out of the lottery for years. They passed the lottery and said that all the money would go to education. Well it did not work out that way and they have been taking lottery money and using it for other projects. That means they have been taking money away from the kids of NC. I will end by saying that the people of NC wanted change and elected our new Legislature. Last time I checked that means these elected officals get to pass laws and make decisions for NC. The Dems had power for over a hundred years and the people of NC said it was a time for change. If you are on the other side you should respect the fact that you lost and understand that these elected officals should be given a chance. I will end with this and how sad that the protestors would act this way and cost our goverenment thousands of dollors. These people should go and volunteer somewhere and help the people of NC .
    RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory says he has often entered the crowds at the North Carolina Capitol protesting decisions he and Republican legislative leaders advocate, and gotten cussed out in the process.

    McCrory said during a visit to Wilson on Wednesday that he welcomes protesters, but his interactions haven't been pleasant.

    "I go out in the crowd all of the time. Frankly, yesterday I went out and talked to several of them and they were not very respectful. They did not represent the majority of people who call themselves moral by cussing me out, but, you know, that's the way things go sometimes," McCrory said


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