The 2018-2019 academic year begins, and new expectations are in place for my students and myself. Anticipation, excitement, fresh purpose, all converge to create momentum. But this fall, a new feeling is tossed in the mix— a deep-seated unease fueled by over 20 US school shootings between January and July 2018, and by what may come.
When I started teaching, it never occurred to me that it would become a hazardous profession, that I would begin a school year with active shooter drills. I should’ve reached retirement without experiencing such a thing. Combat pay isn’t the kind of pay raise we educators seek.
And no, this bizarre time is not “the new normal.” I hate guns, and I hate even more that I know what AR15s and bump stocks are. Sickening.
A vicious cycle, that’s what this has been. A shooting, the media blitz, the helplessness, the inaction by those in power. Next, come everyone’s opinions on tv, social media, at the water cooler. Then, it all begins to fade. The families of the fallen retreat into grief, as is their right. The loud voice of indignation softens, Congress has fewer slings and arrows to dodge. And the scariest stage: the eerie silence before the next shooting.
I honor the brave students and teachers in Parkland whose instincts propelled them into heroic actions that helped many, sometimes sacrificing themselves. I’ll tell you who else are my heroes: students who immediately after the massacre, amidst their pain, made their voices heard in protest for our apathy. I have new hope for their generation, and I know they will be the revolutionaries that will make the blind and deaf finally see, and hear, and mobilize.
These agents of change have sparked conversations that have actually been followed by actions. In Florida, my home, Governor Rick Scott proposed a $500 million school safety program. Some of the measures proposed included placing law enforcement officers in every public school, funding for metal detectors, bulletproof glass, and steel doors, more mental health counselors, and legislation to make twenty-one the legal age to purchase a weapon.
We live in an angry world. We hurt, so we hurt others. But our children are getting caught in the crossfire. No one wants that. After 9/11, security in government buildings became, and continues to be, heightened. Columbine was our 9/11. The same level of steadfast vigilance is due to our schools. #enough
Author: B.B. Free
Author Bio: B.B. Free always had a book on her nightstand from the age of three, and so began her love affair with language. As a teenager, poetry became her favorite vehicle for expressing the rollercoaster of those angst-filled years. When she became an elementary school teacher, she discovered the range and quality of children’s books and began creating thought-provoking storylines appropriate for children six to eleven. This is when ‘The Rescuers’ was born, a South Florida Writers Association award winning story, which will also be published in Spanish. Her passion for writing soon expanded to include adult fiction and non-fiction. And while she will continue to produce literature for children, she is currently editing a poignant, funny and stylish novel about female relationships, food, love and reinvention in sexy Miami.
B.B. Free is married and has raised a daughter, now 28. She continues to teach and foster the love of reading in young children. She also writes a food blog where she chronicles her adventures in pursuing other passions… travel and fine dining!
Link to social media: Facebook @bbfree61