The tragedy in Connecticut on Friday weighs heavily in our hearts and minds. The deaths of so many a tragedy, but even then, it could have been a lot worse if it was not for the heroes of the story; brave teachers who did not lose their heads in the crisis took steps to protect their students.
15 students were saved when their music teacher, Maryrose Kristopik, barricaded them in a closet. She kept the students from panicking as the shooter shouted in the room behind them, demanding “Let me in! Let me in!” As one parent, Brenda Lebinski, whose child huddled in the closet, kept safe by the quick thinking of Ms. Kristopik, said after the tragedy,
My daughter’s teacher is my hero. She locked all the kids in a closet and that saved their lives.
First grade teacher Kaitlin Roig, another hero who locked her students into her classrooms bathroom, had this to say,
The kids were being so good. They asked “Can we go see if anyone is out there?” “…I just want Christmas…” “I don’t want to die, I just want to have Christmas.” I said, “You’re going to have Christmas and Hanukkah… I tried to be positive”.
Even before the tragedy, principal Dawn Hochsprung had already taken steps which led to countless people being saved. She had implemented new security protocols which may have saved countless lives on Friday. Tragically she stood among the victims, working to save others without thought of her own safety.
These are three stories about three teachers, three heroes, but this is nothing abnormal. Teachers are heroes every single day. And the truest tragedy of Friday is not the shooter or the deaths. It has nothing to do with gun control. It has to do with these very heroes who are under attack every day. Part of the Boehner proposal for the fiscal cliff would slash school budgets nationwide. The heroes are under attack by punditry who would blame government, without a care for the lives they ruin. This is the time to discuss gun violence. This is also time to discuss the continuing attacks on our heroes by right-wing lawmakers.
The tragedy is the right time to discuss these things, because under the right-to-work mantra, these teachers would not have been there. Instead the lowest possible denomination, someone struggling to meet a paycheck without a single care for the students, would have been in their place. The ideal right-to-work scenario, with government so small and privatized that a teaching position would be sponsored by McDonald’s and focused on the perfect indentured servant or prison labor worker, that is our future so long as we continue to let corporatism run roughshod over our freedoms.