Weingarten: The new school experience


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Gun violence within schools continues to be a harsh reality.

Caleb Weingarten, Columnist

Content Warning: This article contains details about school shootings that may be triggering or disturbing for some readers.

Ever since that fateful day in Newtown, Connecticut, I would argue, the tension in schools shifted permanently for a future of terror and planned escape methods from the horrors of mental illness and the unbarred availability of war weapons to the general public. This column isn’t to argue against gun control but rather an attempt to discuss one of the most persistent issues facing modern American society.

One may point out the Columbine shooting set these events in motion, and while I would agree, the more militaristic drill-style training for kids in elementary school and up began after Sandy Hook. 

The innocence of small children being slaughtered at school isn’t an exaggeration; it’s a promise to the future generation for a different type of social organization in a school setting. We know we can’t (nor should we) allow students to obtain their education from home permanently. Interacting with others in school is fundamental to the application of knowledge, which is generally what an education is for in the first place. But ever since the mass influx of mass shootings in America, the idea of public education has shifted drastically. 

Students now live in fear and are taught how to survive the executioner if they are to arrive. Responsibility is placed on the shoulders of children as young as preschool and kindergarten to stick with them through their journey into adulthood. The most recent shooting at Michigan State is a perfect example of this. 

A student at Michigan State, Jackie Matthews, was the reason I brought the example of Sandy Hook into the conversation. Not only was Matthews a survivor of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 28 people, but she also survived the most recent shooting at Michigan State, where “a gunman opened fire in two buildings, killing three students and critically wounding five others.”

Something even more disturbing about Matthews’ situation is that she developed a “PTSD fracture in her right lower back that continues to bother her.” And by bother, it means a constant reminder of a reality she and so many others have dealt with since their youth.

Yes, it is true that we live in a truly unique moment in history, especially the youth who are practically submerged in it. In this day and age, parents must balance the lives of their children with the fact that more guns exist than people in this country. No one knows quite what the solution is, no matter how convincing some politicians and family members may seem. This obviously raises a massive question of what now?

All I can say is that it is imperative for each and every one of us to discuss possible solutions and ways that we can mitigate these tragedies to continue occurring. Maybe by some blend of participation and honest discussion, the various issues that are baked into the arguments of people on both sides of an agenda can abandon their dogma and work towards something positive.

It isn’t impossible.