Do students need ‘The Substitute?’

By Bill Miston

It’s clear that we have not learned our lesson – the lesson that began with Columbine.

Three school gun-related or shooting incidents happened within the past week. The first involved a 14-year-old boy who entered his high school in downtown Cleveland, shooting four before taking his own life. Reports say he had threatened to blow up the school and stab students. In Plymouth Township, Pa., police took a 14-year-old boy into custody Thursday, suspecting he was planning a “Columbine”-type event at a Pennsylvania high school. Friday morning, a third-grade boy was taken into custody after pulling out a loaded .380 handgun from his backpack on a bus and pointing it at other students.

While the only death in these incidents since last Wednesday was the shooter in Cleveland, in the past 15 years, 323 students have died in school shootings. In almost every case there have been warning signs – an emotionally troubled teen writes about killing or blowing up things, but not enough is done to stop the young killer. How are we to protect the students and teachers if we are not heeding the warning signs of these school shootings?

The obvious solution is to give the students a first line of defense. Arm the teachers.

While I was in school the only weapon that was used on me by the teachers was a ruler across the knuckles or good ‘ol corporal punishment – and people think there are issues with paddle use in fraternities. Bring back corporal punishment. Teachers need corporal punishment as an ace up their sleeve, only this ace should be a 9mm.

Having concealed weapons on teachers is the only way to thwart the evil children terrorizing and murdering others in this nation’s public school system.

Or is it?

A second recourse is to make the school system more like the penitentiary system, complete with guard towers, attack dogs and tear-gas dispensers in the cafeterias. School should no longer be a warm environment for students, but should be a cold, sterilized environment. There should be bars on the windows, fences around the playgrounds, security guards in the halls and metal detectors at the doors. Wait…

OK, on top of the teachers that are packing heat and the solitary confinement/home economics classroom, hire Tom Berenger from “The Substitute.” Though John Shale, the ex-CIA agent turned mercenary turned substitute history teacher’s normal cup of tea, is battling drug-running gangbangers, I think it would be a very smooth transition to have him battle this nation’s emotionally depressed, violence prone, raging hormonal youth.

If you cannot understand sarcasm to prove a point, I apologize.

But seriously, what’s most disturbing is that these children – I emphasize again, children – are getting “crazier” earlier. At what point does a child feel that he (or she) is so emotionally scarred from the normal school experiences of teasing and bullying that he (or she) must take it out on his fellow students and teachers? Whatever happened to the 12- or 13-year-old that would run away when they wouldn’t get what they wanted, or felt that everyone hated them? I tried running away once, but got only as far as my front yard.

Every time there is a school shooting, there are always signs leading up to the incident – just as there were in the Cleveland case. And every time there were signs, something or nothing was done. If something was done, it wasn’t enough to stop the incident. Virginia Tech, anyone?

While police did stop the Pennsylvania teen, the cache of weapons confiscated from him were more like the cache that the Chicago Police Department took off the streets in the gun turn-in program over the summer.

What will it take for these things to stop? To me, it seems that the schools that I grew up in are no longer safe. Schools were traditionally a place where a child could go and learn and be safe – are they safe now?

I just want our schools to be safe. If this is what we are dealing with now, what will we be seeing in our schools 20 years from now? The War on Terror will no longer be waged on the streets in a foreign country, but in our classrooms and hallways.