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To the editor: Monsters belong in schools

Zella Christensen writes fiction and poetry and lives in Wisconsin with a radioactive cat who does not have superpowers. Her fiction has appeared in Radix Media's anthology Aftermath: Explorations of Loss & Grief. You can find her online at zellawrites.com.
Dear Editor,
I am writing in response to this publication's ludicrous attack on the age-old practice of housing monsters in school dungeons ("Monsters in our schools: Enough is enough," Mar. 2018). While I'm sure it is well-intentioned, Miss Tickal's argument that the best way to reduce monster-related deaths in schools is by removing these monsters to less densely-populated areas is dangerous and misguided. In fact, the movement to force schools to relocate their beloved dungeon denizens is just one more example of the worrying increase in federal overreach we have seen over the last several decades, starting with the revocation of teachers' right to corporal transmogrification and the demonization of innocent schoolyard duels forty years ago.
It is true that as these monsters grow older and larger they also grow hungrier, as Miss Tickal asserts, but it is unfair to blame the growing number of monster-related deaths in schools on this natural process. More likely the increase in student deaths can be blamed on the fashionable shift toward teaching nonsensical subjects like "physics" and "geography" in the classroom, instead of focusing on traditional battle magic, and the ever-tighter age restrictions on powerful magical relics and lethal spells. The best way to defend students against monster attacks is not by removing monsters from schools, but instead by arming teachers and students at all experience levels with magical weapons like staves and enchanted swords and reintroducing spells like Supernatural Combustion and Deathray into the curriculum.
Those who ask, as Miss Tickal does, why a school needs monsters in its dungeon are missing the point. Some of our oldest and most prestigious schools have harbored creatures like the Giant Lady-Headed Venomous Snake and the Laser-Eyed Vampire Spider in their dungeons for centuries, and never before have they had to defend or justify this practice to alarmists like Miss Tickal. Such monsters often serve as mascots and are crucial to a school's character and pride, and schools should not be forced to remove them to satisfy shortsighted reactionaries.
Beatrice Smith
Betterstown, New Rhode Island
The End
This story was first published on Monday, August 27th, 2018


I wrote this piece while thinking about how unsafe a lot of fictional schools of magic seem for their students. As I wrote, some aspects of that issue started to sound weirdly similar to problems we face in our own reality. So much for fantasy as escapism!

- Zella Christensen

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