Editorial Arming teachers makes schools more dangerous
Teachers handle many details as they prepare their classrooms for the start of school this week in many local districts. Packing a gun should not be on the list with pencils, notebooks and good-job stickers.
Arming teachers was a horrendous idea when first floated by President Donald Trump in response to the Parkland, Florida high school shootings that killed 17 on Valentine’s Day. The notion is no less appalling now, yet Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering to allow districts to use federal funds to buy guns for teachers.
It is shocking that someone in charge of education for the country would think it’s worthwhile to siphon money from student enrichment and safe classroom projects to give teachers guns. No one benefits, except the firearms industry.
DeVos’ proposal was reported Thursday as she prepares her fourth and last school safety listening session in Alabama this week.
The message to her must be strong and clear: Taxpayers don’t want their money spent on arming teachers. It is a misguided and ineffective solution that would not make classrooms safer.
Even with trained law enforcement officials in armed confrontations, only 20 percent of the shots fired hit the intended target, Newtown Action Alliance said, referencing the nonprofit Violence Policy Center. How could a teacher with less training do any better in a crowded classroom when faced with an AR-15?
Teachers want to focus on teaching, as they should. The National Education Association found that 74 percent of teachers surveyed are opposed to arming them. Guns do not belong in schools and telling teachers they must have one will not stop gun violence. If anything, it would discourage promising future teachers from entering the profession.
Psychologically, students see what should be a safe refuge for learning become a place of fear with a weapon ever present in the classroom.
Congress can block this dreadful proposal, but given its lack of meaningful action to address gun violence we have little faith the majority will do what’s right for school children.
The responsibility for action lies with each of us. Call DeVos (202-401-3000) and tell her you are against requiring teachers to carry guns in the classroom.
Be proactive and urge school districts to adopt the Know the Signs program offered by Sandy Hook Promise that trains students and educators to “know the signs of gun violence and how to properly intervene when they learn someone is a threat to self or others to prevent gun violence before it happens.”
School safety has been a grim concern since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, and before that Columbine High School in 1999, now made even more urgent with the Parkland killings.
Making schools safer begins with stopping violence before it starts, not by arming teachers. Students are not safer with guns at the head of the classroom.