Letter: All legislators should sit in classroom and experience shooter drill

FILE - In this Friday June 9, 2017 file photo, students are led out of school as members of the Fountain Police Department take part in an Active Shooter Response Training exercise at Fountain Middle School in Fountain, Colo. The nation's two largest teachers unions want schools to revise or eliminate active shooter drills, asserting Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 that they can harm students' mental health and that there are better ways to prepare for the possibility of a school shooting. (Dougal Brownlie/The Gazette via AP, File)

I challenge every legislator to sit in classrooms during a shooter drill. Look at the faces of the children and the teenagers. Think about going to school every year and having to sit through these quiet and tense moments, always wondering if or when or what you’d do if the unthinkable happened. Focus on the teachers who have to strategize and plan for what they’d do if a gunman stormed through the door, year after year after year, while nothing ever changes.

While you’re sitting in that classroom, sitting quietly against the wall, in a darkened classroom, with all the silent children and the teacher, who is trying to keep the drill a “positive” situation since it’s a “preparedness plan,” think about what your inaction in your elected job, says about you and how you value life.

I loved being a classroom teacher. I miss everything about teaching. I continue to love and miss all the students I had the privilege to teach. However, after Sandy Hook, I couldn’t stand the way the drills made me and my students feel. I was so tired of the constantly evolving “plans” to protect students and teachers during an active shooter tragedy. I resented being told what to say and what not to say when my 7th graders asked why someone would kill kindergartners. So I left my classroom because I had nothing else to say or do that would help answer that question. And now, here we are again. Twenty-one more deaths at an elementary school.

So, again, I repeat my challenge: experience a shooter drill. Then go attend the funerals of the latest group of babies whose deaths are a direct result of your continued inaction. Look their families in the face and tell them how your thoughts and prayers will help them since we all know we will be crying and mourning the exact same thing again because, while the teachers and students sit in darkened rooms and make “plans” to survive, you do nothing.

Kim Rathke, Layton

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