NRA Easter Gifts: Mace-In-An-Egg!

I get the whole NRA armed guard thing. They are looking for positive role models to help our children in this time of confusion and fear. Macho gun toting guards in every school. Replace fear with respect. Replace confusion and anxiety with order. I get it now. It took a few days, but I get it.

So I called up a former high school buddy who works in the Headquarters Offices of the NRA. Back in the day I used to ride around with him in the middle of the night thrashing mailboxes with three-woods so I knew he could be trusted to give me the inside dope. Here is what he told me about that confidential NRA Department Head work session that brought us phase one of the NRA plan. That’s right. Gun Totin’ guards is only phase one of the NRA’s comprehensive strategy to dramatically alter the mindset of every single child in America and get them on the path to peace of mind.

In phase two, to be introduced at the press conference scheduled for Valentines Day, the NRA plans to reveal a new line of designer body armor from a very select group of hip American designers, for school aged girls. Wayne LaPierre is apparently already in discussions with several members of various boy bands for sponsorships. Currently it comes in black only, but they are testing a pink camo line that comes in all the youth sizes, all the way down to toddler for you preschool parents. Why Valentines Day? Well, what says love from a parent to a child like a gift of new body armor?

Phase three, planned for an Easter unveiling, will be the new Mace-In-An-Egg. designed to fit in pencil boxes, it’s the Easter gift every child will be demanding. Imagine the child who finds that special hidden Easter egg and discovers the child-friendly Mace-In-An-Egg. Beats jelly beans any time. My friend’s understanding is that Mel Gibson is working on a Saturday morning program called,”Lockdown!” to help cross market the product.  Sure to be a hit.

Phase four will be aimed specifically at high school kids as the NRA leads the marketing highway for a new product called Zip. Its the smallest, lightest, quickest and easiest to use firearm ever invented. Resembling a ball point pen, it fires a single .22 caliber round. Targeting the nerd market specifically, it comes with matching pocket protector.  Imagine, you’re writing that essay for the World Lit class and you suddenly suspect that the person entering the room is a Bad Guy. He is, after all, carrying what resembles a ball point pen. You instantly stop writing and without giving it another thought, you fire. Everybody calms down and you finish that pesky essay. Now that’s how you make Student of the Month.

My friend didn’t have time to fill me in on the final three phases of the plan because he thought he heard funny clicking sounds on his phone and quickly hung up. But he hinted at possible new product lines for middle schoolers aimed at the untapped holster and bandoleer market.

I wished him luck.

NRA: The Re-Emergence of the Neanderthal Gene?

Every now and then something happens to make me consider the real possibility that humanity has evolved into at least two distinct species. Before you start writing your comments telling me that this is ridiculous, let me say, I know it’s ridiculous. But I like to think that my species entertains crazy ideas and is willing to reflect on the seemingly ridiculous from time to time in hopes that it leads to better understanding.

I first began to seriously explore this possibility when George W. Bush was reelected. How could half of the American people really believe that this guy was capable of being President of the United States? Clearly the most failed presidency since Franklin Pierce. I carefully re-considered  those people who could look me straight in the eye and claim that GW was a great president, and without blinking, turning away or cracking a smile, declare that they would vote for him. I wondered how their brains were programmed. How could they, humans who shared nearly every piece of the same gene pie with me come to such different conclusions? Was it all nurture or was nature doing something insidious to the top Primates on the planet? Were we, I wondered, reverting to a 25,000 year-old Neanderthal/Homo Sapiens type of competition for the top of the pecking order on our small planet? Yes. I suppose we are.

So I Binged some research and came up with some interesting stuff. I admit I had read about this controversial idea before just now, but you tell me, doesn’t this help make some sense out of the craziness?

…there are some commentators that think that Homo Sapiens may not have completely prevailed, that perhaps Neanderthal man still effects the modern gene pool. Yes, many reckon that far from eating Neanderthal man, we may  in fact have mated with them. It’s a contentious issue… Source:…

Then, today I hear the spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, NRA’s top lobbyist (read Neanderthal), Wayne LaPierre, tell the American public, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good [Neanderthal] with a gun.” And I am more convinced than ever that there are Neanderthal genes swimming in the American pool.

Again, from Wayne LaPierre, in an effort to deflect blame from guns and bullets to movies and television:

“In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes.”

I could not agree with him more. He is absolutely right in his assessment. Violent movies and music, video games, the UFC with blood splattered all over the contestants and the mat–all are offensive to civilized society. But his conclusions and solutions are all twisted.  Only a Neanderthal could excuse the primitive image that looks back at him in his mirror. Truly, is anything more offensive  to “every standard of civilized society…a more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty” than gun violence? And his only answer is to get more guns into society. More people armed. More profits for the gun manufacturers. Wyatt Earp. OK Corral. Hang the horse thief and all cattle rustlers. Get a rope, Ma. Better yet, load the six-guns, I’m a goin’ to town. (Do those who long for the glorious days of yesteryear even realize that guns in the hands of the citizenry terrorized the townspeople? The first thing Wyatt Earp and others did was to ban guns in town!) I will stop here as I have written other posts on this topic and feel I am beating a horse that isn’t likely to get up and run any time soon…Write your senators and representatives in congress.

Merry Christmas.

Today everything changed at school.

Staff meeting first thing in the morning. The superintendent addressed the staff with some new changes. First, every classroom will be locked and the doors will be closed during instructional time. Second, nobody leaves the classroom without a hall pass. Third, A security consultant arrived at 11:00 to advise us on how to install a buzzer at the front door with an intercom system and a closed circuit camera monitoring the entrance. Fourth, all visitors that enter the building must have a visitors badge. Fifth, we ordered stanchions for the front, the kind of posts and barriers that will direct all traffic to the office door.

If these precautions seem to be the kinds of things that should have been in place all along, let me explain a bit about my town and my school. I am the assistant principal and a teacher at a very small K-12 school with 200 total students in the district. We are all in one beautiful building.  The outside grounds are litter free and the interior misleads people into believing our building is quite new when it is actually over 20 years old. My town has a permanent, year-round population of about 800 people. We are high up in the mountains and this time of year we are basically at the end of the road. (15 inches of new snow on the ground and snowing hard as I write this.) We have small class sizes and students call teachers by their first names. We all know each other and parents and teachers socialize a lot. We don’t lock our houses and we leave our keys in the car. But after Sandy Hook our parents are scared. After Sandy Hook I am still somewhat in shock.

As of today, Mrs. Smith will not be allowed to bring the lunch sack her son left on the kitchen counter and drop it off in his classroom. No more will those three responsible high school girls be allowed to work their group projects in the hallway. No more will Mike and Sammi be trusted to leave class to get a drink or to use the restroom without carrying a “passport.” No more will parents just walk into the building and drop in on their son or daughter’s first grade classroom. And I am very saddened by this. Gun violence on the other side of the continent has forced us into being something we have resisted for a long time.

Arming the Adults in Schools Is a Very, Very Bad Idea. Here’s Why.

First let me say that I am heartsick over this tragedy.  When my principal came to me and told me there was a breaking story about an elementary school shooting I was stunned—this is not the kind of thing one gets used to. When I heard it was a kindergarten classroom involving as many as twenty children dead, I was literally heartsick. I hurt. If anyone doubts the existence of evil in the world this was pretty solid evidence. Like every school in America these events cause us to take stock in our policies and procedures: If it happened on my watch should we hunker down in the classroom or should we take our students and flee as fast and far as we could? How do we further restrict access to the building? How much will we be talking about this with students on Monday? What’s appropriate, what’s needed, what’s too much? These are discussions that will be taking place this next week all over the country in schools both public and private. There are many conclusions and many answers, depending on the particular school and their particular circumstances. But one thing I am sure of: arming the adults at the school is a very, very bad idea.

The first parent I saw on Friday at the end of the day confronted me right in front of our library as kids were heading out to their buses. He said, “After today’s shooting, I have two words for you,” and he gave me the first and last name of a high school boy at my school. I’d been speechless all afternoon and I was beginning to feel comfortable there. But not this time. Yes, the boy he mentioned has had difficulties at our school over the last 7 or 8 years, struggling through his parents’ nasty divorce, living with a mother who works for minimum wages at the Wal-Mart so he doesn’t have the same “toys” as all his peers (sounds cliché but it’s true). He is socially awkward and he sometimes is annoying to teachers. But violent he is not. And he has come light years from his first days at our school, in large part because the administration has fought the adults who want him isolated, even expelled, just because they see him as “weird”.  The parent was completely surprised when I told him that what he just said was an awful and that I don’t want that repeated where anyone can hear it. He ignored my pleas and continued right on so I ushered him into the library where there weren’t any kids.

He started right in with, “If I have been here with a gun the first thing I’d have done was blow his fucking head off!” This coming from a recent retiree from the Army. 24 years of service with multiple tours in Iraq I, Iraq II and as a contractor in Afghanistan. He is from the warrior class. No doubt. And his first thought would have been to shoot…the boy he just named.  That his first thought even was to shoot anybody at all is bad enough, but to already have a kid in mind is exactly what many who want to carry guns would do.

And there is the problem. Guns kill people. Forget the cute slogans. Forget the NRA propaganda that absolves them from all responsibility. Guns kill people. And they don’t often kill the “right” people. These are facts we know. These are facts that are in the news every day. Every day.  I don’t think I have to review the research on all of that in this post. We know that countries with easy access to small arms are more violent. We know that thousands of deaths each year in America are attributable to guns—both intentional and accidental. We know that in the absence of 20, 30, 40 round magazines it would be much more difficult for those who are determined to do their worst to do what they intend to do. But today, I am more concerned with the notion that more guns somehow makes the country safer.

You see, the parent I was speaking with had worked for the school for a short time. After his military retirement we hired him on as a part-time bus driver. After two weeks of the occasional stopping the bus and ripping into students—literally terrorizing the youngest ones—we had to let him go. He made horrible decisions about who to discipline and who to ignore. He screamed at kids who had their feet in the aisle. He stopped the bus and yelled at kids who talked too loud. The many who cannot make good decisions about who to discipline on a bus route is NOT the guy I want coming into my building, armed to the teeth, looking for the bad guys. I fear a lot of good student and staff collateral damage in that scenario. So, give me all the arguments you want about gun restrictions and the second amendment and “armed citizens are safe citizens” bologna, my best response is that if we arm everyone, even more crazy people will have guns.


Standardized Testing Wastes Much More Than Money

School Testing In U.S. Costs $1.7 Billion, But That May Not Be Enough: Report (

Should I be surprised that the Huffington Post has published an interview with David Coleman, president of the College Board, the company that administers the SATs, in which Mr. Coleman says America spends too little on testing? Gee. The president of a testing company says the US should spend more money on testing. And the president of GM thinks we should buy more cars. And the owners of coal mines think we should forget about green energy. And the Republican party thinks the rich need more tax cuts. How can a journalist write this kind of story without exposing it for what it is?

By the way, it isn’t just the money that is wasted through standardized testing. Standardized testing wastes some things that are far more valuable than money, things that are difficult to measure such as time, imagination, discovery, creativity and critical thought. Other bloggers, authors and educators have written on this issue ad nauseam…and the people who control the purse strings refuse to listen. In twenty-five years we will look back at this business-model-for-efficiency-in-education-fiasco and ask ourselves what was the craziness that got into us.