Tag Archives: School

Time’s Up – We Need Change

Bear with me, this is a bit long with no pictures, no affiliate links, etc.  Links are bold, italicized, bright blue and are done so purely for reference purposes only – Maggie

A number of years ago due to my work situation and a related assault, my ex-husband insisted that I get my carry permit.  When I got my concealed carry permit, I had to have fingerprints on file with state & fed, a federal background check and fire 100 rounds along with a 12-hour class.

For some of the people, in my opinion, it was a joke.  You have to fire the gun but there’s no proficiency required. Then a few years back I had a former friend invite me to her house (she didn’t know that I was licensed) for Concealed Handgun License training.

She lived in a rougher area of town but in a pocket of a nice, quiet,  residential area, in other words – no shooting allowed.  She then proceeded to tell me that it was only going to be 4 hours and when I asked about the shooting requirement, she said that if anyone wanted range training that he would meet them at the range. That’s bullshit, only to be made worse by the fact that the “instructor” was a county sheriff’s deputy.

I’m not dogging on Concealed Handgun License holders, far from it, but I don’t think that it’s thorough enough and I can’t see where that training or something like it shouldn’t be required when purchasing your first firearm and require renewal testing every couple of years, like a driver’s license.  Frankly, it took more training to become a Leave No Trace trainer, and to be a trainer of adult volunteers for my area Girl Scout council!

Before anyone opts to flame me about the second amendment, please understand that I’m suggesting training for the shooter, not licensing of the firearm.  Even a shooting range that I used to go to required all new customers to go through a half-hour training about proper gun safety, shooting stance as well as their specific policies.

As for the recent mass Florida (which is where I was licensed), I personally believe that charges should be the ones who knew and did nothing with an accessory charge. I heard on one of the news broadcasts that the FBI notified the school about this kid being a credible threat but didn’t follow him, the teacher can’t carry, etc…

Every school has counselors, guidance counselors, etc.  was he sent to the counselor’s office for sessions to evaluate his state?  I mean up and above the shooting, this kid was constantly having issues before being finally expelled, how did this school handle him?  Did they take steps to deal with him or did the fail him isolating him with a progression of detention, suspension, and expulsion

In lieu of this, my view has modified considerably.  Many states had enacted what’s called Duty To Rescue laws, which are largely applied or prosecuted, but they are specific to a one-on-one situation.  Clearly, it’s not necessarily applied to the situation, but I think some variation of it should apply here.

I am of the opinion that teachers should be *allowed* to carry – but that doesn’t mean that they would be required.  Just the enactment carries with it a deterrent because any potential shooter would not know who (if any) teachers can shoot back.  Further, I also feel that schools should be fenced with an armed guard posted at the entrance during school hours to restrict who comes in during the school day. 

The schools in my area all had the (ridiculous) sign stating that visitors must sign in at the office, but I was able to enter from side entrances, walk in and past the office and in one school the office was down the hall and around the corner.  Anyone could walk in unnoticed.  I also feel that schools should be fenced with an armed guard posted at the entrance during school hours. 

When I first started elementary school in Queens, NYC, the classrooms were/could be locked from the inside, there were phones in the classroom that connected to the office.  I’m not if it connected to the PA system then but that technology is available now.  The doors had glass with chicken wire in them further preventing someone from breaking the glass but allowed teachers to see what was going on outside the classroom without being at risk.

Rather than having a security guard, which was only happened during my public school career when I was in high school, we had an actual police officer.  They had the training and know how to handle situations, be it a shooter, someone getting violent, etc rather than the minimum wage security guard with a uniform and minimal or no training.

Using the past few school shootings as an example, were their classrooms equipped the same way, at the first sign of trouble, the kids could pile up at the far corner of the room or along the wall with the door and be completely out of danger with the exception of anything coming through the wall.  

Without similar precaution I also feel that schools should be fenced with an armed guard posted at the entrance during school hours, monitoring and restricting entrance to the school; preferably police or military.  That would be an employment boon for reservists and a perfect solution for much of veteran unemployment   Hell just making someone buzz you in would be a vast improvement.  

I now think that  AK-7, AR-15, M-16, etc purchases be a licensed ownership requiring extensive training and evaluation. Look at Commercial Driver’s License training or better yet a pilot’s license and how extensive the required training is before licensing not only it is a very involved piece of machinery, but the potential for harm.  You can get a driver’s license once you’re an adult without drivers ed (a whole other conversation) but you’re required to have additional training and road practice for a motorcycle license. 

So why isn’t there training for the safety, handling, and usage for automatic weapons?  Trainers have time to evaluate a potential owner during this process and if necessary refuse to sign off on their training and refer them for further evaluation.   I applied for disability and the first step was spending an hour with a psychiatrist that was contracted by the Social Security Administration, why can’t this be an option for those who are “iffy” during their extended training.  Hell I’m still trying to figure out what happened to the Brady Bill, I mean how in the world was that allowed to expire??

Image result for Second Amendment

Yes, the 2nd Amendment mandates that we have the right to have firearms, which was sidearms and long guns. The founders could not anticipate the eventual development of automatic weapons.  Remember, at the inception of the Constitution being the law of the land there was no military to protect the civilians – everyone was a civilian at the time.  So the second amendment was intended to allow civilians to band together to protect our country from foreign invaders (aka the British), as well as to protect the Constitution and make sure that we remained a democracy and didn’t turn into an autocracy or oligarchy, in other words, to protect us from the government

Frankly, someone should have anticipated this and acted on it during the first period in our country’s history that dealt with mass shootings, which was prohibition using Tommy guns.

As I said, my views on this subject have changed considerably.  As with most people, these school shootings have initiated conversations and thoughts of what can be done to prevent them.  I am no exception.  However due this recent school shooting, the numerous warning signs as well as an actual law enforcement agency warning, my thoughts are now not only thinking of the shooter, but the staff and surroundings, and the elements needed.

I hope this current polarized country can find some common ground to bring these to halt and allow something to come out of these that promote change and at least offers something positive to come out of this so that these individuals haven’t lost their lives for nothing.  Again, this is just my opinion, in hopes of joining the discussion to enact change.

May the victims and their families find peace.

Maggie ॐ 

I’m amending this because I neglected a few comments

First, most of the mass shootings have taken place in Gun-Free Zones so there’s no way that anyone can defend and possibly remove the threat.  This is not just anyone open carrying (in those states that allow it which I find to be ridiculous) but it’s concealed carry license holders as well.

In an attempt to make the point of my concern, let me share the story of Nikki Goeser whose stalker shot her and fatally wounded her husband while in a restaurant where she was forced to leave her weapon in the car and her stalker knew that she’d follow the law, leaving her wide open for assault with no chance to defend herself.

My second point is that background checks are done, but what they amount to is a rap sheet.  It is a list of arrests and convictions.  Kudos for not getting in trouble…yet.  But what about the stuff you’re doing that you haven’t gotten caught for…. alcohol or drug addiction, domestic violence, chronic road rage, fluctuating mental illness issues that aren’t remaining balanced through the use of therapy and medication, etc… ?  It’s got to be more than just a print out from the police department.


Our Future Needs Help

Homeless child at soup kitchen, Her family was living out of a car.
Homeless child at soup kitchen, Her family was living out of a car. Taken June 2008

I was reading an article entitled  “The 10 Worst States for Student Homelessness“.  It is a very well written and enlightening piece that encourage you to take the time to read.  In it, it offers a link to the Dept of Ed’s report citing the actual statistics per state for the 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years.  Numbers are not complete for the current school year since it has not completed.

California tops out at 21.3% of their students are homeless!  New York comes in 2nd at 8.3% and Texas at 8.1%. This is positively horrifying!  These numbers are a representation of the total students statewide.  The majority of the homeless are in urban areas.  So what are the percentages in those inner city classrooms?

How can we expect children to succeed with so much working against them?  How can teachers teach effectively when children are worried about where their next meal is coming from, do they have a safe place to go after school and where they will sleep tonight?

It’s hard enough to maintain employment when you are homeless,  I know first hand.  If you haven’t read my post “Insights Into the Dark” please check it out.

Personally I’d really love to see the statistics of absenteeism rates for homeless vs housed students.  I know how hard it was for kids in the shelter that I stayed at to attend school, but at least they had somewhere to be picked up and dropped off from.  Unfortunately it was in the middle of the bus route so everyone knew exactly where they lived.

Imagine the family that is rotating between friends and relatives, a night or two in each place; or the family who is staying in their car or worse yet outdoors.

Here’s a video from an episode of Ellen that is from September 2011.  It’s about an amazing lady named Sherrie Gahn who is the principal of an elementary school in Las Vegas.  Well instead of me telling you, watch it and we’ll talk more…

Gave you chills right?  I know it did for me and a lot of other people.  It’s pretty overwhelming.  Sherrie Gahn is working miracles and thankfully she got some huge help.  In fact, after this show aired, Justin Bieber personally donated $100,000 to the school.  That being said, that’s just one elementary school.

You heard her numbers… 85% on free or reduced lunch, a large portion of them are homeless, even though the statistics for the state of Nevada list the reported homeless students at 0.9 %.   Less than one percent, yet that much poverty.

So what is it like for kids and teachers in LA, living in a state that reports it has approximately 53,000 members of their students are homeless?  Or New York with over eight thousand students that are homeless?  And that’s just homeless.  That doesn’t consider those living in poverty that have managed to retain a roof over their heads.

As a parent, I know how much I was required to provide for my child when she was in school.  I don’t think there’s a school around that doesn’t rely on at least 2 or more fundraisers to help them make ends meet each year.  None of those fundraisers are even designed to cover the out of pocket costs being covered by teachers.  For the schools dealing with this much poverty, where does the fundraising come from?  Certainly not parents.  So the schools do without, putting an added financial burden on already stretched parents.  How many children would you guess have all the tools they need to succeed?  I’m going to guess not enough.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, approximately 19.6 million children received free or reduced lunches in the 2011-2012 school year.  During that same school year there were a total of 952,281 homeless students (reported).  So the homeless only (roughly) represent half of the children living at or below poverty incomes.  As you can see, there many, many children that need help.

While it’s easy to throw up our hands, note that it’s an overwhelming problem or just simply say not my kid/not my problem, the fact is… it is your problem, and mine, and everyone else’s.  You see these kids are going to be adults that need to become teachers, lawyers, doctors, and everything else we need to make our society function.   They will be taking care of you and me as time marches on.  As the song says, our children are our future.  We need to take care of them now so they can take care of us later.

Please consider participating in a local supply drive or even creating one.  Talk to your local schools, churches, community centers or even your employer to find out who they help and when so that you may participate.  My employer does school supply drives twice a year in addition to food drives, clothing drives, etc.

You can also contact one of the following organizations to help as well.  If you are in need please contact the same resources for assistance.

The Kids in Need Foundation
This foundation distributes supplies to 2.4 million students annually. While they do not donate directly, through a national network of Resource Centers, teachers can get free supplies for their students in need.  The foundation also distributed items through community backpack and supplies giveaway programs throughout the country.  For communities without its Resource Centers, community organizations often provide supplies to local students by conducting backpack giveaways through the foundation.  Go to http://www.kinf.org/ for more information on applying to receive support for a school, or to donate.
 Boys & Girls Club of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of America host a national supply drive, called Tools for Back-to-School, through an online play-to-give game and in-store support at retailers across the nation. These supplies, as well as supplies donated by their partners, Disney, Michaels, and Staples, are delivered directly to local Boys & Girls Clubs. Families can contact their local Boys & Girls Club for more information on back-to-school support. To find your local club visit http://www.greatfutures.org and click Find A Club.
AdoptAClassroom.org is a national, nonprofit organization whose goal is to make sure that all children have access to a quality education. They start by supporting classroom teachers, and since 1998 have raised over $18 million for classrooms across the country. Through this program, teachers are able to make purchases to enrich their classrooms, and students benefit. To support a classroom, visithttp://www.adoptaclassroom.org.
 The Give with Target Program
The retail chain will donate $5 million to schools across the country to help ensure that students and teachers have the supplies they need to start the new year. From now through September 21, guests can cast their vote for a school of their choice by visiting Target’s Facebook page. Once a school has received 25 votes, Target will donate $1 per vote, with a (maximum donation of $10,000 per school). The cash donation will provide schools with undesignated funds to purchase the materials their students and teachers need most. For more info, visit http://givewith.target.com/.

As always friends, thanks for listening and letting me share.


Teaching the Keys to Safety is Essential

When my daughter was still in elementary school there was a stranger danger alert.

Remember this


While I no longer have a child at home, seeing this picture on Facebook brought it all rushing back.  My daughter rode her bike back and forth to school.  We lived just a few blocks from the school which made her a walker but she had no one to walk with her.  Due to severe health problems at the time resulting in surgery, I was unable to drive her.

According to the school, riding a bike to school was considered a “privilege” reserved for 3rd graders and above.  I finally got them to concede that riding a bike by yourself was safer than walking by yourself.  And since they weren’t willing to walk with her or find someone to do so, they finally allowed her to ride solo.

In addition, I had gotten my daughter a Tracfone that she took with her anytime she was out by herself so she could call for help if she fell off her bike riding around the neighborhood or later on needed to check in to tell me when she got to her final destination (store, library, etc).   I used to get her the card with a year of service every Christmas and every year she had leftover minutes that would roll over.  At the time they only came with 150 minutes, so she did great!

Anyway, on “stranger danger day” the whole school was on lock down.  I was panicking because she was late and I had no way of finding out what was going on and no way to go looking for her.  (I think this was a week or two after my abdominal surgery.)  I called the school and thankfully found out what was going on.   My daughter in the meantime was panicking because she was going to be late and she knew I would worry and they wouldn’t let her call home on her phone or theirs!  (Yes, I took that up with the school too.)

Here in the Midwest, all towns are equipped with tornado sirens.  They are tested everywhere on Wednesdays at noon and carry an unmistakable sound that lets everyone for miles know of impending danger.

I wrote a letter to the mayor, the school board and the principal asking that a similar system be utilized to put everyone on alert.  My suggestion to them was that we use something similar to the tornado siren system to alert everyone to what was going on.

Not only would a siren notify parents as to why students would be delayed, but it would alert students to “drill” type procedures like a fire alarm as well as letting area neighbors know that they needed to be on the look out for suspicious people in the area.  My suggestion was declined with a letter telling me that it was too much effort and unnecessary.

While I always knew I placed more value on my daughter than anyone else did, it was very disturbing to see it written out and her worth be considered so negligible.  It was the following school year that I began homeschooling my daughter.

In the meantime, in the “aftermath” of the event, one of the local news stations had interviewed a few people and it was on the air that very night.  One police officer commented that it’s very hard to catch “strangers” because children made such horrible witnesses because they have no concept of age, weight, etc.

Following the suggestions that officer made during that interview, my wheels got moving.  We called an “emergency” Brownie meeting that the parents were required to attend with the girls.  We did mock sessions asking the kids to describe us.  We met at the school, so having the chalkboard at our disposal we wrote out the answers the girls came up.  Adults were described as being anywhere from 20 to 100 years old, up to 1500 lbs and 20 feet tall!

When we asked the kids to describe what a stranger looked like, it was like asking them to describe a comic villain.  They were confused at first when we told them that a stranger is anyone you don’t know.  They can be handsome, friendly, clean and can even have a puppy.

We then taught them (and their parents) that rather than trying to come up with numbers, to do comparisons instead. Cindy’s dad looks as old as my dad or he’s fat like Uncle Bob or Patty’s mom is skinny like Aunt Judy, wears her hair like my babysitter or smiles like Grandma.

Size, shape, skin color, hair color, hair style and car makes, models & colors are all something that can be accurately communicated this way as long as children are taught to look for the comparisons so they can related them to you or police.

If a child does witness anything and are communicating with police, parents will be called and involved.  From there, police can clarify descriptions with the parents… how old is Dad, how are Uncle Bob or Aunt Judy built, etc.

I used to teach employees that the best form of security is good customer service.  Engage the customer and maintain eye contact.   There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids this too.  Those people who do bad things look for easy targets, whether it’s an adult or child.  They want someone who is easily intimidated and manipulated.   Assertiveness training is not just for adulthood, a dynamic personality keeps people safe at any age.

None of these things need be taught by panic.  The goal is not to teach paranoia  but rather awareness.  Play is always the best way to teach.  Make it a game.

  • Take pictures of celebrities and have your child describe them trying to have you guess who it is.
  • Point out scenarios that you see on the street that you feel could be unsafe and engage your child in conversation.  “See that little girl alone on the street corner?  That doesn’t look safe to me.  What do you think?”
    • It shows you listen to them and value their opinion
    • It teaches them to look around them to see situations and to watch out for other people.
  • Selling popcorn and cookies for Scouts or fundraisers for school or church are great ways to get them to practice eye contact and assertiveness (along with salesmanship, manners & cash handling).

Passwords are also a great means of security that we utilized as well.  It’s that extra step that not only makes them feel safe but makes them feel empowered.  We now live in a world filled with passwords, get them used to it early.  Let them learn what a good password is and let them practice even when you pick them up.  It’s a secret shared with only you two.

One last thing.  Teach your child to listen to their gut (or their “spidey sense” as I like to call it).  Whether it’s a neighbor or a relative, if they give your kid the creeps, please don’t force contact or allow them to be alone with that person.

Learning to trust your primal instincts is a good skill and one we unfortunately don’t listen to often enough.  How many times have you done something, only to kick yourself later commenting “I KNEW I shouldn’t have done that!” or “I had a bad feeling about that, but did it anyway”?

When Kid was little I read an article about a study done with victims of molestation.  Almost all of them had come from families where there was forced intimacy… meaning “go give Uncle Bernie a kiss”, “I don’t want to, I don’t like him” only to be told to do it anyway or something guilt provoking like “he’ll be sad” or he’s gonna cry”.  To adults it tends to be a big game to teach about manners.  I remember these vividly from my own childhood.

Sadly, instead of teaching manners, it teaches children that adults have authority over their bodies.  It also teaches that if they don’t listen to “Uncle Bernie” that they can get yelled at, punished, etc. by their parents or their parents will be mad at them.  I had never considered this until reading that article and it had a profound impact me based on incidents in my own childhood.

I know you want to keep your kids safe, and I want your kids to be safe too.  The world is a scary place but that doesn’t mean they have to be scared of it.  Give them the tools they need that keep them safe and will also help you sleep at night.