The kids are right: It is time for Congress to do something about school shootings. There are three constants in this epidemic: Guns, 'crazy' kids and government-run schools. Two are protected by rights. Instead of focusing on firearms and children wearing trench coats, it is time for adults to pull up their big-boy pants and start looking for real solutions. Solutions will not include a #neveragainmovement.

What should be done about public education? Arming teachers is a bad idea. Even if educators have the best arms training in the world, a mistake will happen.

For example, a pistol-packing teacher gets into an argument with a student, a mentally ill student, after the teacher sees the kid with drugs. When the learner reaches into his/her pocket, at a particularly hot moment in their fight, the teacher yells, “Stop!”

But the student doesn’t stop. The educator sees this learner fits the profile of a school shooter, pulls his/her weapon and drops the teen. The teacher says this combative, unstable troublemaker was going for a weapon when police investigate. What police find in the kid's coat is a doctor’s note explaining the need for the prescribed medication. Maybe the child lives, maybe the child dies, but lawyers are lining up at the trough for a piece of the legal action in this case.

John Q. Public will pay big-time in the end. What about the educator? Will he/she ever be the same?

Radical thinking

I have taught in college and was shocked that recent high school graduates did not know what a sentence is and naturally could not write one. Many would use social media shortcuts attempting to write words. I’ve also taught GED prep courses and found many learners earning the GED were more prepared than many high school grads, at least where basic English skills were concerned.

It’s not just English. More than half of students entering one community college I taught at required remedial courses. Most students were in math. To that school’s credit, it, and many others have created mandatory, semester-long, first-year experience courses. These teach strategies in comprehensive reading, note taking, keys to studying math and science etc.

I had the honor of teaching this course for a year or two. One of my students was a rapper. He was convinced through his public school experience that he could not do math or science. I gave him either a math or science formula one Thursday and told him to write a rap around it by Tuesday. Mr. “I can’t do this” was more surprised than anyone after he memorized the formula by incorporating it into something important, and fun, for him. While memorizing is only part of learning, it gave this young man new hope.

Start from the ground up

Teachers have been turned into babysitters, who don’t have time to grade papers on the clock and must spend out-of-pocket for school supplies.

Could there be a link between that and the quality of the students they forward through the system? This crisis has continued for decades.

The Second Amendment protects citizens’ ability to keep arms. Historically it was meant to protect the public against the army and an oppressive government. It is hard to read or watch the news today and not be concerned about an oppressive government. Likewise, people, including mentally ill people, enjoy rights from the Bill of Rights.

Public education, on the other hand, is not a fundamental right. Many argue education is a human right. Human rights are universal rights such as adequate housing, clean air, clean water, justice, etc. Good luck finding those anywhere in the world including the good old USA.

Given U.S.-run schools are now target ranges, students are neither educated nor trained to work and society’s general disrespect for teachers; now would be a good time to blow up the public education model and replace it with alternatives families will support. This time we can consider a scheme that is outcome-based, holistic and with smarter instructor-to-learner ratios.