A North Carolina teacher has received an apology from a person who accused him of "having a lack of testosterone" for not wanting to have armed teachers in schools
Justin Parmenter, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Waddell Language Academy in Charlotte, gained national attention after he had his students critique a letter from a person who attacked his masculinity for not wanting more guns in schools. On Monday, Parmenter said he received another message from the parent apologizing for his earlier letter that he said was written "obviously in haste and over emotional."
"I couldn’t have scripted the ending any better," Parmenter wrote on his blog Monday.
The shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14 has sparked a national debate about how to make schools safer.
President Donald Trump has called for training and arming some teachers to serve as a last line of defense at schools. But 78 percent of North Carolina teachers in a recent Elon University/News & Observer/Charlotte Observer poll said arming teachers is a bad idea.
Parmenter had shared his objections to arming teachers in a recent Charlotte Observer opinion piece, prompting the critical email. The person made statements such as, based on Parmenter's picture, the teacher had "never even saw a barbell, much less lifted one, and most likely gets queasy at the sight of a gun."
Parmenter decided to turn the situation into a teachable moment by having his students suggest ways they could improve the letter. The students gave advice such as "work to understand opposing points of view," "take a fact-based approach if you want to persuade" and "refrain from name calling. It's often cover for a weak position."
Parmenter wrote about the experience in the Washington Post and forwarded a link to the critic telling him how his "email ended up doing some good.” Instead of getting more insults or silence, Parmenter said he was pleasantly surprised by the response from the person, named Kevin.
Kevin replied that he wished there were more people like Parmenter who took the time to have this kind of dialogue. While Kevin said he doubted that they'll ever agree on the issue of armed teachers, he respected what Parmenter did.
"My sincerely [sic] apologies for the insults, you deserve better for what you do for the community," Kevin wrote. "I hope you and your wonderful and thoughtful students forgive me!"