Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Teacher Dad: Time for Better Gun Control

I hate guns. They make me totally and completely uncomfortable. I've held a gun only once, and it was some sort of  military grade weapon and scared the you know what out of me. I couldn't for the life of me understand the why. What was the purpose? The answer I got was, "why not?"

That doesn't work for me. I get needing a gun for certain reasons. I married an Alaskan. I lived in the last frontier for 10 years. I understand hunting, or the need for protection in the wild. My father-in-law owns a gun for such reasons. I don't know much about it, but I know it's there. 

And I know plenty of other people who own guns for hunting purposes. Nothing military grade, but enough to take down a moose or a caribou for winter meat. All of this I get. I get the need for families in Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and other states with a great deal of subsistence lifestyles having hunting weapons. It's not for me, but I'm down with hunters being hunters. 

What I don't get is the need for firearms beyond that. I don't know when exactly my dislike of guns started. I was like most other boys growing up. We played "war" throughout the neighborhood using toy weapons. We'd run in and out of the backyards hiding from each other and springing attacks. 

But at some point that changed. Maybe it was the Brown's Chicken murders in my hometown, or the shooting near my junior high that had us on lockdown until a parent could pick us up. It could have been the front row seat to the Persian Gulf War (90's edition), or the unforgettable Columbine Shooting. It definitely hit the highest of moments at the funeral of a kiddo accidently shot by her relative, but the feeling was permanently sealed in a tearful drive home from teaching while listening to the news covering the Sandy Hook tragedy. 

The days following that terrible event I found myself in a Facebook "discussion" questioning the idea that the gunman would have killed those students and teachers even if he didn't have a gun. I pleaded that there would have been no murders that day if he had walked up to that school with steak knives, but my NRA "friend" wouldn't hear it. In my mind it makes sense that if the types of weapons he used that day were never available, those kids and teachers would still be here today. 

I'm tired of people being hurt out of hate. Guns or no guns. I believe that without the guns less of our brothers and sisters would be dead at the hands of hate. And I can't for the life of me understand how others don't see that. I can't for the life of me understand how a person can see the number of deaths at the hands of gunmen and conclude that to solve this we should have more guns. Let's bring guns into schools and on college campuses to keep people safe, huh? Didn't we progress beyond the "Western" lifestyle shown in a John Wayne movie?

Our country has come a long way since the birth of my first kiddo. Yet, in our present moment we can still have a man walk into a church and kill using a gun given as a gift. It's time to fight for better and frequent background checks. Let's fight to keep the right guns in the hands of those that use them to feed their families. Let's fight to protect kids by being realistic with how people are getting murdered. It's time to press for better representation within our government to help get things on track.  

My 5 kiddos are already living in an America with more freedoms than I grew up in, but I question if it is safer America? And if it's not, does making guns and ammunition more readily available really make anything better? I truly don't think so. And neither does the comedian in the video below. 

Clearly, I'm opening myself up to critics by writing this openly on my blog. I'm not interested in battling over my feelings on this issue, but please feel free to comment. And at least watch the video! Funny and true! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


I've recently found myself in a position as a dad that I'm questioning just how I can hold the educators of my own kids accountable for my kids' learning. This is a strange dilemma to be in since I am an educator, and in my opinion... Well, I think I'm great at my job.

So, I'm sitting up late tonight trying to wrap my head around the academic year of one of my kiddos, and where the accountability of the teacher stands. As a teacher I do everything in my power to own the responsibility of my students' learning. If one of them fails, then it was on me. I didn't do my job. I didn't reach them. I didn't bridge the gap to help the student surpass the struggles of home life, learning disadvantages, or content interests. I, me, the teacher didn't get the job done. 

I'm sure you can see that I take this seriously. I expect the educators of my own kids to have the same passion. I want them to own the responsibility of teaching my kids. That these men and women will take the time to understand my children and teach to their strengths. I want them to contact me with more "I" based statements. I want to hear not what my kid isn't doing, but what the teacher is going to do to help. I'm tired of the word intervention. I'm tired of not "meeting standards." I want to hear "your kid is learning at his/her pace and that's great! Here's how I'm helping bridge a couple of gaps I've noticed." 

I want to hear responsibility not blame. Standards aren't teaching my kids or your kids. Educators teach the kids. Not apps on iPads, not Sylvan Learning Centers, not parents for hours after school each night, but teachers. 

The great teachers know this. The great ones or those of us striving to bring this to our classrooms. I'll tell you that it's exhausting, but as a father of 5, it's more exhausting to worry for my own kiddo's learning experience. So, I'm up wondering how this entire year, ending in less than a week, can be positively justified. What was my child's gain? 

And at this point, the positive is that the summer is around the corner, and my kids will be kids again. We can work on things that interest them. Read and write at our leisure. We can do learning the way we think it needs to be done. So that by the start of the next year, we can be ready for the next teacher and hope for the best. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Happy Fourth Birthday

Four years ago today, my wife and I began an amazing trip across the country to hold our twin boys and start a new chapter in our lives. I'm still not sure exactly how we were able to do it. Everytime I think back, I'm overwhelmed by how it all came together so perfectly.  The late night phone call, the scramble to book tickets, the phone calls for help, the excitement of traveling all night and day. It represents one those times when you know that a bigger universal power must exist. For everything to fall together the way it did, I know that these, now 4 years olds, were meant to be, and are forever my kids.

They have grown so fast, and with each day make our lives better. When my wife and I decided to add to our family through adoption it was because our hearts told us it was the next path. We followed our hearts, and they are forever bigger and better because of these two amazing boys.

We love you both so much for what you each bring to our family. While you are twins, you are so incredibly unique. A with your charming smile, strength, and athletic nature. O with your love of music, kindness, and inquisitive mind. Your friendship and love to each other is so perfect. Thank you for making your mom and I as well as your siblings the luckiest people in the world.

Here is the video we made when we first brought our boys home. Enjoy it, and have the tissue ready!

You can also read more about our story at the following links.