In the wake of yet another school shooting, the government and members of the media are beating a familiar drum: more guns, not less, will put a stop to our decades-long national epidemic of mass shootings in schools. The President of the United States has been aggressively putting forward the idea that our nation needs armed teachers to prevent school shootings. The notion of transforming our educators into a paramilitary strike-force of academic achievement is completely absurd for many reasons. Chief among these is that it is simply impractical to expect a teacher to become a trained marksman and learn to adequately respond in an active shooter situation. Then there’s the funding required for such a proposal. Not to mention that putting more guns in schools creates a culture and environment that does nothing to address the struggles of children at risk.
Not My Job!
Being a teacher requires us to wear many hats: nurse, counselor, social worker, caretaker, parent… nowhere in our training or toolbox of skills does that ever include shooter.
There are many field experiences, trainings, and degrees required to become a teacher. Those most powerful and effective learning experiences are on the job, hands on learning. Soldiers and police officers undergo intense training as well. According to an FBI study done of active school shooter situations from the years 2000-2013, “law enforcement suffered casualties in 21 of the 45 incidents where they engaged the shooter to end the threat.” So this means that almost 50% of professionally trained law enforcement died! HALF. Even with all of their training.
So we want to consider that a teacher who takes a one day gun safety class is now qualified to react and protect themselves and students from an intruder intent on doing the most damage? How would teachers stand a reasonable chance of survival, when half of our trained law enforcement perishes while attempting the same task?
There is not a lesson plan that can adequately prepare teachers for an active shooter. Can you imagine the consequences, the outrage if a teacher accidently shot and killed a student in the process? Is this a risk that our society is willing to accept?
Who is Paying?
Incentivizing teachers to become trained to carry weapons requires funding. Where would that money come from? If money is available for schools and to give to teachers, how about a higher salary or incentives for more logical things like additional endorsements and social emotional trainings?
The federal government just cut taxes and passed a budget resolution to increase spending, creating a large spending gap.
How does arming teachers fit in to this proposal? You would need guns, training, liability insurance. Just for starters.
In 2016, in Fairfax County, Virginia, a meal tax was proposed to raise money for the county. This proposal was defeated. The tax would have generated roughly 99 million dollars of tax revenue for the county, 70% of which was designated to go to Fairfax County Public Schools, primarily as an increase in teacher salaries.
Funding for public school resources, universal PreK, and teacher salaries is not a priority, but guns are. It is hard to take the call to arms seriously when those asking for it are against investing in our children and the things that they need to thrive.
The biggest need in our schools is for a more positive, empathetic, and proactive mindset that focuses on strengths and solutions. Children that come from difficult home lives and who are predisposed to risk factors need to mentored, loved, and seen. This can only happen when we all get on board and take action. Children who need help and support are not difficult to pick out, so why do they continue to slip through the cracks?
Research has shown that early intervention is critical for children exposed to adverse conditions. Harvard University conducted a study about The Toxic Stress of Early Childhood Adversity fining that toxic stress affects children’s metal and physical health for a lifetime. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a study on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and gave an ACE score based on the answers to questions relating to trauma. “There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death, or abandonment.” The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study uncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional struggles. Is this not where we should focus the conversation, resources, and outrage? What can we do to PREVENT, ANTICIPATE, and CHANGE the inevitable struggle of at risk children?
Since we know the consequences of adverse childhood experiences are inevitable, let’s invest in what we need to support children! How will guns in schools help with any of these things?
Early Childhood Inclusion Teacher