Florida Teacher On School Shooting: “I’ll Be the One Brave Enough to Say It”

florida teacher

Florida teacher Kelly Guthrie Raley has been in the news locally this year for being named 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year at Eustis Middle School, but as of last week, she’s made national headlines as well. With Florida in the spotlight after the horrific school shooting and mass murder of 17 students and staff at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Raley found her voice in a BIG way. A Facebook post she made the day after the shootings has gone viral with over 687,000 shares, because this Florida teacher is MAD and willing to “say what no one else is brave enough to say, but wants to say.”

florida teacher
Screenshot: Good Morning America

Raley says in her post that she’s willing to withstand all the verbal backlash that may come from her strong opinion because she’s a teacher in the schools with our kids every day and it’s her life on the line. Though I think there are a variety of changes that need to be made to stop these terrible school murders from happening, I do think that what Raley said NEEDED to be said, and as a Florida teacher she certainly has the credibility. Here is her powerful post, in full:

florida teacher

Okay, I’ll be the bad guy and say what no one else is brave enough to say, but wants to say. I’ll take all the criticism and attacks from everyone because you know what? I’m a TEACHER. I live this life daily. And I wouldn’t do anything else! But I also know daily I could end up in an active shooter situation.

Until we, as a country, are willing to get serious and talk about mental health issues, lack of available care for the mental health issues, lack of discipline in the home, horrendous lack of parental support when the schools are trying to control horrible behavior at school (oh no! Not MY KID. What did YOU do to cause my kid to react that way?), lack of moral values, and yes, I’ll say it-violent video games that take away all sensitivity to ANY compassion for others’ lives, as well as reality TV that makes it commonplace for people to constantly scream up in each others’ faces and not value any other person but themselves, we will have a gun problem in school. Our kids don’t understand the permanency of death anymore!!!

I grew up with guns. Everyone knows that. But you know what? My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior from me. I was terrified of doing something bad at school, as I would have not had a life until I corrected the problem and straightened my ass out. My parents invaded my life. They knew where I was ALL the time. They made me have a curfew. They made me wake them up when I got home. They made me respect their rules. They had full control of their house, and at any time could and would go through every inch of my bedroom, backpack, pockets, anything! Parents: it’s time to STEP UP! Be the parent that actually gives a crap! Be the annoying mom that pries and knows what your kid is doing. STOP being their friend. They have enough “friends” at school. Be their parent. Being the “cool mom” means not a damn thing when either your kid is dead or your kid kills other people because they were allowed to have their space and privacy in YOUR HOME. I’ll say it again. My home was filled with guns growing up. For God’s sake, my daddy was an 82nd Airborne Ranger who lost half his face serving our country. But you know what? I never dreamed of shooting anyone with his guns. I never dreamed of taking one! I was taught respect for human life, compassion, rules, common decency, and most of all, I was taught that until I moved out, my life and bedroom wasn’t mine…it was theirs. And they were going to know what was happening because they loved me and wanted the best for me.

There. Say that I’m a horrible person. I didn’t bring up gun control, and I will refuse to debate it with anyone. This post wasn’t about gun control. This was me, loving the crap out of people and wanting the best for them. This was about my school babies and knowing that God created each one for greatness, and just wanting them to reach their futures. It’s about 20 years ago this year I started my teaching career. Violence was not this bad 20 years ago. Lack of compassion wasn’t this bad 20 years ago. And God knows 20 years ago that I wasn’t afraid daily to call a parent because I KNEW that 9 out of 10 would cuss me out, tell me to go to Hell, call the news on me, call the school board on me, or post all over FaceBook about me because I called to let them know what their child chose to do at school…because they are a NORMAL kid!!!!!

Those 17 lives mattered. When are we going to take our own responsibility seriously?

Raley’s points about parental combativeness when it comes to teacher’s calling out their child’s misdeeds is DEFINITELY an issue. As parents, we are the first line of defense to combat these atrocities, by raising kids who would NEVER commit them — and would never have the resources or privacy to hide their intentions inside our homes. As she states, in her nearly 20-year career as a Florida teacher, compassion has gone down and violence had gone up. That is something we cannot ignore on a fundamental level as we work to pass new laws to keep our kids safe at school. Parents, those of us who follow Christ’s teaching must impress the HUGE importance of teaching our kids to follow HIS command to love our neighbors as ourselves and TO PUT OTHERS BEFORE OURSELVES. Because we need a whole lot more people willing to DIE TO SELF before we can STOP OTHERS FROM DYING.

What do you think of Raley’s statement? I applaud her for her courage to “be the bad guy,” and I only hope her words along with the activism of the students at Douglas High and ALL OF US will effect change.

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.