Letters published March 14, 2018

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Don’t restrict students ability to take stand while in school

I take exception to Mr. Coco’s letter regarding the planned memorial March 14 during which the Whitefish High School students and faculty may participate.

His idea of a social contract is unfounded, and it is appropriate for students to plan with faculty to attend the memorial. Mr. Coco’s narrow interpretation of the supposed “contract” and intent to inhibit student activities surprise me.

Hats off to students and faculty who wish to show respect for the students murdered in the Florida shooting. —Rayne Beach, Whitefish

Social contract with students already in tatters

In response to Joseph Coco’s letter of March 11 on the memorial planned for March 14 for local youth:

Speaking of social contracts (as a retired teacher I often participated in drills where my students and I would huddle in the dark in our classroom), I feel strongly that I and other teachers should be able to enter and teach in our school environments without the fear of being shot. I think the social contract that we have with our children should not include answering questions about the most effective way to run away while trying to avoid a shooter. (A conversation I had with my then 14-year-old daughter after Columbine. She is now 32.)

Our social contract should not include my 11-year old granddaughter having anxiety and panic over whether or not she is safe at school. You seem concerned that school time should be spent on this memorial. What about the full day of training our teachers in this district recently underwent, where they learned to disarm a shooter with their bare hands, pack wounds with gauze, and how to apply a tourniquet. Are you aware that students will also spend time during the school day to learn these same techniques? I can absolutely guarantee you, every student and every teacher in this district would much rather be focusing on the normal, everyday process of just simple learning.

I retired about four years ago, after Newtown, when talk of arming teachers began to surface. I knew, as a teacher, that I would never be able to point a gun at a young person and kill them. I would rather die myself than do that. This is how much teachers love their students, even the ones who might show up with a gun. We do have a social contract to teach and learn, and it has been taken away from our teachers and our children, not by political action, but by the failure of this country to value our children above anything else.

Threatening to quit funding schools by paying your taxes is nothing new. Teachers in this district have faced failed levies time and time again. That social contract seems to have died years ago. And yet, teachers continue to arrive at school hours before they are required to, and work hours and hours of unpaid overtime, in order to educate and love our community’s youth. Thanks again for reminding us of how little teachers are valued.

If anyone is interested in participating in political action surrounding this issue, join us March 24 in Helena for the March for Our Lives. I am taking my granddaughter and her twin brother, so they can feel empowered, instead of just fear and helplessness. —Valeri Walden McGarvey, Kalispell

Don’t take aim at Second Amendment

I am frustrated that politics are playing out in our schools. Attacking our Second Amendment rights is not the answer. Guns do not kill our children, we have children, killing children.

We no longer teach the Ten Commandments and our children no longer recognize the phrase “thou shall not kill.” We have taken God out of our lives, and we have surrounded our children with violence; in movies, TV, rap songs and video games; all absorbing into their very fabric and molding them into killers. These video games are giving our children a sense of empowerment; cultivating a world of death and blurring the boundaries of right from wrong. A child picks up a plastic gun and this virtual reality teaches him skills that become our worst nightmare, school shootings.

Children spend hours playing video games. Isolated from society, they begin to see their world in the vision of the “game.” These games seduce our children into shooting virtual people for hours, killing thousands in each virtual city. The more firepower the more exhilarating the game becomes, and each time the trigger is pulled the child feels a sense of unlimited power.

We need to unite to solve our problem of violence. The issue is not guns, but how we raise our children. We need to stop the video game bonanza of death, teach our children right from wrong, put God back into our lives. We need to insist law enforcement follows up on every tip with information of anyone threatening violence against our schools or society as a whole. We need to employ safe rooms — ballistic, weather-proof, hurricane-proof safe rooms (www.sheltersinplace.com). We need to have our police present in our schools, trained and equipped for today’s violence, to protect our children in today’s school shootings. —Lisa Jensen, Kalispell

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