I heard the news during lunch today. There was another school shooting. I couldn’t eat. It sickened me.
Then I saw a headline: 27 dead. Unconfirmed. Maybe that wasn’t right. But it was. And that made the tragedy several degrees worse. I was sickened and cold.
Then I read an article. The shooting was in an elementary school this time. Somebody did the unthinkable in a kindergarten classroom. And for some reason, again, this made it worse. I was sickened, cold, and unable to breathe.
Why worse? Loss of life to violence at any age is tragic. I guess it’s hard to explain, but it just is worse. I’ve been a parent to children of all ages. I’ve worked in schools with children of all ages. This shooting changes more lives than we can count – forever. The fact that this happened somewhere that should be nothing but a happy place would make me mad, if I could get past all the other emotions. But I can’t.
I know I haven’t felt this way in about 11 years. I’ve been in classrooms full of children during all kinds of tragedies: the Murrah Building, Columbine, 9/11. There are never words to answer the questions children have in times like these. And the parents call. What are you doing to keep my kids safe?
Every school has a disaster plan. But nobody has a plan for this. Nobody should have to. Every fear of every student and parent is legitimate. The feelings are real. They’re raw. And they’re recurring. Teachers have those fears too. They try not to think about it but they talk. What would you do if…I have no idea what I would do…I hope we never have to find out. That conversation has happened thousands of times in schools today. None of us know the answer, because we weren’t there.
In the past few hours, I’ve seen some poignant statements about the tragedy – some asinine ones too. Mostly just comments from completely numb parents, grandparents, and educators who can’t imagine someone killing children – of any age.
I love public education because I love kids. I love hope. I love a world of unlimited possibilities.
I hate today.