Guest Post: A Public Service Announcement from American Teacher

The following guest post is by a teacher at an American high school who has requested anonymity. As should be obvious, these opinions are not mine. In other words, I may agree with them. I may not. That’s not the point. I’m putting this here to add to the current discussion over school shootings.

On March 14, students across the country are planning a walkout from their high schools in memory of the seventeen students killed in Florida in February.

This idea is dumb and dangerous.  It is when students are pouring out of the building, say as at dismissal time, that we are at our most vulnerable.  (Nicholas Cruz opened fire when students emerged from classes after he pulled an alarm.)  No one is blocking the doors.  Security guards and administrators are in the parking lots.  Something that administrators and police have overlooked can easily be exploited.  The opportunity to inflict a lot of harm is tremendous.

Unfortunately, for the next couple weeks, instead of supervising a learning environment, school officials will be planning for this walk-out.  They can’t say it’s not happening to thousands of high school students.  They don’t have a choice.  The entire student body cannot be suspended.  Yet it is hard to impose order on a social protest because, by definition, social protests are chaotic and disorderly.  Schools will just have to be as prepared as possible, but stopping an incident often hinges on luck.  The potential for a crisis is huge.

On March 14, I am going to lock my door and stay in my room.  Our union has advised us that walking out can be regarded as a form of protest or strike for which we can either be disciplined or terminated.

All the trouble is going to be outside anyway.  Very few adults will be supervising thousands of kids.

The walkout is a distraction from the school day.  Some kids probably do want to commemorate those who lost their lives in Florida.  Most just want to get out of school.  By letting kids walk out, we are empowering those not ready to handle power.  Encouraging this walkout is madness.

The walkout also publicly denies the school its authority.  When students are already having a protest on March 24, the March 14 walkout becomes hard to justify.  It becomes an issue of power and challenging those who would deny students power.  A walkout is, by definition, a provocation.  Students will be saying a great deal indeed when they get up and walk out.  This walkout will only make matters worse for schools and the discipline problems that they face on a daily basis.

If parents want to make a political point about guns, then they should come to the school and stand with their child for seventeen minutes.  If they really wanted to make an impact, they would ask their child to do seventeen nice things that day.  They would ask their child to say hello to seventeen classmates that they did not know.  Standing outside for seventeen minutes just puts on a show.

Otherwise, parents might want to consider protesting the protest and keeping their kids safe at home.  Call the school administrator to voice your concerns.

Or better yet, tell your child, “You’re a kid.”

This entry was posted in Blog on by .

About Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at, editor-in-chief of, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.

32 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Public Service Announcement from American Teacher

  1. Guest Post: A Public Service Announcement from American Teacher

    «American Teacher» is resigning her/his post as a teacher (if, indeed, s/he has ever held such a post) ? Now that would indeed be a «public service» worth celebrating….


  2. Crazy H,

    Frankly, my most influential teachers were those with whom I felt that I had no business having a conversation; I just needed to listen. I knew that I was not their equal and never would be.

    Trust me, you can’t even force someone to read.

    Well, and this isn’t tongue in cheek, I have to get to the ring. I’m refeerring a fight tonight.

  3. Crazy H, I’m not sure if you are well-acquainted with the American student.

    When someone wants to leave the room for the twenty-seventh time and demands an explanation for your refusal, the best response, I have found, is “I’m the teacher and I say so.”

    • I was an American student – and responsible for more than a few grey hairs among the faculty, I’m sure.

      But there’s a big difference between the 27th bathroom break of the day and a protest about students being killed … and the latter is most definitely a conversation we should be having.

      BTW – welcome to the Rallblog. We’re a rather contentious bunch if you hadn’t noticed. 😉

      • Thank you🤗 conversation, sure; walkout, no. And teachers get killed, too.

  4. Pork,

    Those are fighting words.

    And I used to box before I started to teach.

    For the record, you could not be more wrong. I love my job. The only way that I will leave is on a gurney.

    • just what kids today need: a teacher who resorts to threats of physical violence when challenged intellectually. of course you used to box. a role model for the bullies (and killers?) of tomorrow. what you seem to love about your job is the feeling of superiority it gives you. teachers like you are the worst. don’t teach your students to think for themselves or question authority. just teach them to be quiet and do as their told. good job, ted!

      • Pork,

        I always preface “do as you’re told” with “don’t answer me back.”

        I simply cannot abide by a student who answers me back. Mine is a benevolent dictatorship.

        And of course I feel superior. I can read and write. And box.

        When my students can read and write, then they will be ready to start to think. Right now, there’s nothing about which they can think, except sex and sports. They need to learn to read and write.

        Finally, a feeling of superiority has nothing whatsoever do do with my immense love for my job.

      • “a feeling of superiority has nothing whatsoever do do with my immense love for my job.”

        … but it does have an immense impact on how well you do your job. Think back – who were your most influential teaches? The ones who talked down to you, or the ones who treated you like an equal? You can force someone to read, but you absolutely cannot force them to enjoy reading. That takes an altogether different type of leadership.

        [The following is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I simply cannot resist the opportunity]

        “I can box.”

        So, would you like to step out to the parking lot? It might take me a while to get there. Feel free to wait.

        … mmmm … boxers. Move in straight lines; can’t block anywhere below their belly buttons; and get these goofy looks on their faces when you tip them over.

        😀 🙂 ;-D

  5. this dude is a teacher? (and somehow you just know it’s a dude.) no wonder kids are shooting up their schools. 🙁

    obviously you agree with this shit, ted. if someone else tried that “i don’t necessarily believe it” bullshit on their own platform (ie they had the ability to choose what opinions to promote) you would rip them to shreds. at least be honest. you’re not publishing pro capitalism manifestos “to add to the current discussion”.

    • Show me something.

      I know a capitalist pig insurance salesman who claims to be a revolutionary Marxist, and spouts the same way you do.

      Tell me how you live and I’ll tell you if your shit passes the smell test.

    • While I don’t necessarily agree with everything the author has said, neither can I comprehend how this is a “pro-capitalist manifesto” of any sort. (?)

      • i didn’t say this article was a pro capitalism manifesto. i said that ted doesn’t publish pro capitalism manifestos because he wouldn’t want to promote views he disagrees with. which is why his attempt to distance himself from this article rings hollow.

      • dude, i don’t give a shit if you’re offended. i’m offended that someone lets you teach. it’s obvious (from this and your previous article) that you hate teaching and hate children. if you’re so proud of your views then why insist on anonymity? it’s because you know if the parents of your students knew what you really thought of them and their children that you would be out on your ass. do the world a favor and get a new job.

      • ” if you’re so proud of your views then why insist on anonymity?”

        so … is your real name “pork”?

    • @pork – ok, I misread your statement as sarcasm about this specific article rather than a general observation about Ted’s choices. I withdraw my comment.

      • i don’t insist on anonymity. i’m not publishing articles. i’m just commenting. when i signed up to comment i saw that everyone used nicknames so i picked a nickname. not because i’m ashamed of my views or afraid of the repercussions of airing them publicly.

  6. The author, and some of the comments, appear to be urging us only to more tightly embrace what can be called “only the corporations and their lackeys may exercise political power” theory of government.

    The suggestion here is a logical adjunct, or perhaps the, hidden, primary issue, in the attitude that shit jobs with insulting wages, then, in college, amassing horrendous debt constitute “proper” training for students to prepare them for what will be their politically neutered adult life.

    • I once attended a parent teacher conference with many other parents and a teacher who was teaching civics.

      I wanted to ask the teacher how he taught civics in the midst of another US unconstitutional war of aggression.

      I didn’t bring up that topic because I was going to go home and all of the right-wing parents would be in a tizzy and my child would have to live with the consequences of my speaking out politically.

      You know teachers lose their jobs as punishment for making political statements.

      I know some teachers who publish books about Marxism but who don’t let that into the capitalist state approved curriculum for fear of being blacklisted.

      Steven Salaita lost his tenure at University of Illinois due to twitter comments.

      • Yes, I am well aware that these things happen.

        The USA is a totally paranoid, locked-down totalitarian state … with a lot of exceptionally kkkool techno-bling.

      • I’ll stick with my interpretation until you provide a more plausible reason why US school teachers/students have to worry about getting through the day alive.

  7. > Or better yet, tell your child, “You’re a kid.”

    A high school student is no longer a kid, but not yet an adult. It’s a time when they’re trying on their big-people clothes. So, yeah, it’s time for them to start making their own decisions and speaking their own minds – even if it scares their teachers.

    The writer may be right, in that it would present a great opportunity for yet another shooting. But what the hell are we doing thinking like that?

    • > Or better yet, tell your child, “You’re a kid.”

      No good can come from belittling someone.

      Either he believes it and negates his own intelligence in submission to authority or he doesn’t believe it and constructs an oppositional attitude and a firmer resistance to whatever reason the belitler might present.

    • It is not intended as belittlement, Glenn.

      When a kid asks to do something today, a simple ‘No’ does not suffice.

      Kid wants an explanation.

      Explanation leads to a prolonged discussion and a waste of time.

      Better to shut it down

      • > Better to shut it down

        Shut down a seventeen-year-old because explanations waste time? I was under the impression that a teacher”s job was to encourage discussion and answer questions, hopefully inspiring the near adult to ask even bigger questions.

        So what happens when he turns eighteen and has never been allowed to ask questions or make his own decisions?

  8. “If parents want to make a political point about guns, then they should come to the school and stand with their child for seventeen minutes. If they really wanted to make an impact, they would ask their child to do seventeen nice things that day. They would ask their child to say hello to seventeen classmates that they did not know. Standing outside for seventeen minutes just puts on a show.”

    I agree wholeheartedly with American Teacher here.

    Schools can be very atomizing, meaning anti-social, places.

    Violence is merely the escalation of the anti-social.

    Maggie Thatcher stated plainly that there is no society, only individuals.

    A collection of individuals can be anti-social. Maggie’s anti-social ideology has become the common sense of Western Culture.

    Common sense is merely the philosophy of non-philosophers, the truth of the mob, a truth that evaporates with the mob.

    Don’t be a mob, be a socially connected collective of feeling human beings sharing your sorrows and fears.

    Destroy the enemy within with every attempt at an all-inclusive love.

    The Parkland shooter lost his family and his surrogate family and sought social connectedness in ROTC, a culture that kills its enemies with bullets and bombs.

    Look for the humanity in humans, don’t be a follower of the failed ideology of Maggie Thatcher.

Leave a Reply