|FOREST OF THE RAIN PRODUCTIONS An Educational Affairs Organization||
Catherine Woods @CathyWoodsNH
Arming teachers is not the solution to the problem of active shooters on school campuses. Teaching is considered a “caring profession” full of teachers who care deeply about their students and colleagues. Many would put themselves in harms-way before allowing anything to happen to their students. Some might be willing to be armed, and others not. As we think about whether this is wise or not, we must consider that guns and ammunition are best kept in locked cabinets. The storage of firearms meant to support students’ and staff members’ safety in secure locations would cause the gun to likely not be readily available in an emergency. Having school staff wear their firearm on their person could traumatize students and other staff members. This, too, does not meet the intended outcome. The best solution is not to arm school staff members but to provide fail-safe regulations to mandate who can purchase guns, what types of firearms are available for purchase, and secure our school buildings to allow the school to be a happy and caring learning community.
School Resource Officers (SROs) can be valuable members of school communities. The SRO’s success can be ensured through training about child development, school operations, and children with disabilities. While it might be frightening for some students to see an armed SRO/police officer in a school, their presence can be reassuring to others. SROs most typically work for the school district and their local police departments. In this dual capacity, these officers carry their firearms and wear their uniforms. The uniform can increase the notice given to them by the staff members, students, parents, and other community members, thus increasing security. School Resource Officers are bound not only by the policies of their police departments but also by school policy and procedures and laws governing the operation of schools. A balance between these two sometimes different sets of operational guidelines is not as difficult to find as it once was. The use of SROs in school settings now has historical value that reduces the difficulties in finding this balance. Generally speaking, the use of School Resource Officers is a valuable tool for school districts in ensuring the safety of their students.
LaConti S. Bryant, Ed.D. @LaContiBryant
As an educator who works in an urban environment, this Uvalde school shooting has left me speechless, heartbroken, and anxious. This happened 5 hours away from my residence, and it still hits home. The next day, a student in Richardson ISD was apprehended with firearms in his car. A concerned citizen stepped up and spoke out, which helped with the apprehension of this student. This caused the schools in the area to go on lockdown because of this threat.
As I peruse social media, I see calls to arm teachers. I have even seen a posting about a combat veteran volunteering to protect the school. As emotions are high due to another school shooting, especially in Texas, I understand the want, the need, and the desire to want to arm teachers and staff to protect against school massacres. However, once the fear subsides, I wonder how the choice will disproportionately impact students of color.
In Texas, there are investments that run into the billions into building new facilities for sports and little investment into education to have adequate security for public schools. Priorities need to be reexamined when it comes to things like this.
I am not a supporter of arming teachers with guns because I know that this decision will disproportionately impact black and brown students because of what I stipulated earlier. Statistics have shown a variety of ways that students of color and students from low socioeconomic status in areas such as discipline and discipline referrals and suspensions, identification for special education programs including gifted and talented, to name a few. With this type of impact going on historically for generations, I have to ask the question further: How long will it be before students of color and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds become impacted by this decision?
This is a set up for violence being implemented from within the school classroom based on historical statistics on how the previously mentioned population of students is already impacted. Finally, this is a political issue because the majority of Americans want common sense gun laws that help prevent school massacres.
Thoughts and prayers need to transition to policy and change. After all, faith without works is dead. After prayer, the physical work needs to begin. Also, many of the same individuals who are outraged continue to vote for individuals who do not support common sense gun laws, which I find insane. Change in this situation comes through collectively voting for individuals that will support, develop, and pass common sense gun legislation and fund the AFT to support this effort.
What are your thoughts on School Resource Officers (SROs)? Are they a viable option for protecting students or just a conduit for the school-to-prison pipeline?
I can speak to this from the personal experience of working with an amazing school resource officer this year. I believe that School Resource officers vested in the community bring a new perspective to this position. This year, the officer I worked with knew all the students and their families. He was able to intervene when students were struggling academically and socially to support positive outcomes. He was from the area, which helped because he was vested in the community and had built positive relationships with students and families. Sadly, this is often a challenge with law enforcement because some police officers are not vested in the community nor have positive relationships with community members.
Andrea Peoples-Marwah, Ed.D. @Pdove72
Allowing teachers to have access to assault weapons as safety measures is not the
answer to safer schools. The ability to handle assault weapons in dire situations goes beyond holding the weapon, aiming the weapon, and firing the weapon. A person’s mental acuity must be fully functional and intact when considering the use of a firearm. In addition, maintaining a calm yet orderly atmosphere for the safety of students will pose to be more complex and mentally challenging, and psychologically tedious with younger students in the presence of firearms. Emergencies are quite complicated as there are many layers to quickly, carefully, and seamlessly unfold involving procedures and systems that are in place to maintain and ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. The use of assault weapons has no place in a school setting and is not the answer.
As far as SROs, there have been issues with law enforcement agencies that are not fulfilling their job responsibilities in the care of students and are shown to be ineffective in serving the school as a means of protection. Why have SROs? They’re assigned to work with students who have issues and typically go beyond the traditional duties of a police officer. If they’re not doing their jobs as assigned with strict detail to the job responsibilities, then acting as a conduit to the prison pipeline does nothing for students needing support. Instead, this sets students up with the expectation that the prison system is their destiny.
Dr. Shanelle R. Benson Reid @ACCESSGlobalGrp
I’m disgusted by the thought of arming teachers or any other school personnel with firearms. I can visualize a teacher saying, “she feared for her life” after killing a student. And, of course, the homicide would be justified because the teacher was allowed to carry a gun. Students of color are disproportionately disciplined in school; I’m afraid of what this would look like if firearms were introduced to the school environment. Having more guns is not the answer to the gun problem. Legislation is the answer.
School resource officers are ineffective when it comes to mass shootings. Their “school safety equipment” has little to no effect when faced with a person intent on causing destruction, armed with an automatic rifle. Truthfully, I do not believe SROs belong in schools. Our schools are a microcosm of our society. The injustices people of color face in law enforcement are no different from the mistreatment students encounter when dealing with school resource officers. Are they a viable option for protecting students or just a conduit for the school-to-prison pipeline? I honestly believe they are conduits to the school-to-prison pipeline. If you need a clear example of these, look at SROs in suburban communities with few students of color, where they protect and serve, then observe the SROs in urban school systems that are mostly populated by students of color, where they harass and restrict. At some point, we have to realize every aspect of our society has evolved, with the exception of education. We can not respond to the problems of today with a century-old perspective.
Dr. Rashid Faisal @BowtiePrincipal
Another mass school shooting has reignited the national debate on arming teachers. There is the incorrect notion that bringing more guns into our schools will protect our students and teachers from gun violence. Here is the most basic premise behind the “bad idea” of arming teachers: that armed teachers can serve as first responders in an active shooter situation. I find it telling that deputizing teachers to serve as “School Marshals” is viewed by several misguided politicians as the best solution to preventing the type of school mass shooting that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on March 25th. Suddenly politicians are willing to spend millions on weapons and weapons training to turn teachers into expert shooters as the best solution to solving the problem of school shootings. We are looking for a simple fix when the solution to combating school shootings requires a multiprong approach. Instead of a simple fix in terms of arming teachers, why not consider a few other strategies, when implemented together, that can provide a safer environment for students and teachers.