Over the last few weeks we have heard repeated suggestions about arming teachers in the classroom. Many education officials and political pundits think that’s a novel idea, quite innovative.
Yet my teachers in the small Mississippi town where I grew up were armed — every one of them — and that didn’t alarm anybody.
My teachers were armed with high moral standards. The thought of molesting a child, striking a child brutally, lying to parents or furtively handing out answers to standardized tests never crossed their minds.
My teachers were armed with the willingness to help students who were not making good grades. When Ms. Glenn gave me a D in geometry for the first term, she volunteered to tutor me at no charge until I understood the basics I needed. That’s why I earned an A the second term.
My teachers were armed with love of their curriculum. When Ms. Blackwell taught us Kipling’s poem “If,” she spoke with the same zest she must have felt the first time she learned those words.
My teachers were armed with discipline, administered fairly. Ms. Boyd gave me a laborious writing assignment when she saw me chewing gum in geography class.
My teachers were armed with compassion. Whenever they sensed that a child was victimized by a bully, disturbed because his or her parents were divorcing, or hungry because a parent had not provided breakfast, they became the student’s counselor.
Oh, wait a minute. Suddenly, I realize that I’m not just talking about those teachers in Columbia, Mississippi, decades ago. From what I observed when my wife taught in the Hall County School System for more than two decades, today’s teachers are armed the same way mine were.