Tell Betsy DeVos: don't use taxpayer $$$ to arm teachers!
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As reported by The New York Times, education secretary Besty DeVos is considering awarding federally funded grants to buy guns for schoolteachers as a way to prevent school shootings.
DeVos’ plan represents a radical shift in education policy that for years has taken the position that the federal government should not fund weapons procurement for schools. It ignores Congressional mandates that expressly prohibit using federal taxpayer dollars to buy guns.
In a cynical ploy to circumvent the prohibition of funding school weapons purchases, DeVos is contemplating raiding the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program to buy guns. Arming teachers is not the way to support students or enrich their academic experience.
Arming teachers is a misguided policy that substitutes NRA rhetoric about “good guys with guns" for rational solutions to prevent gun violence in schools. Educational advocacy organizations, law enforcement experts, parents and teachers themselves roundly oppose the strategy of turning educators into armed security guards.
In a statement released after President Trump floated the idea of arming teachers in response to the Parkland school shooting, the National Association of School Resource Officers “strongly recommends that no firearms be on a school campus except those carried by carefully selected, specially trained school resource officers.”
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said arming teachers to prevent school shootings is “the height of lunacy.” Rick Myers, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association said he would be “hard-pressed to find someone in policing who thinks it's a good idea to arm teachers.”
As Debra Ciamacca, a Marine Corps officer turned high school teacher explained, “Guns have no place in the classroom” because teachers will never have the training to make the split second decisions needed in active shooter situations. Furthermore, “weapons are not conducive to the teacher/student relationship.”
Even among trained police officers, shooting accuracy is shockingly low. A 2008 Rand Corporation study of New York City police reported an average hit rate of just 18 percent. That's one reason why Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Educational Association, calls the idea of arming teachers “ill-conceived, preposterous, and dangerous.”
In her letter to President Trump, Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million member American Federation of Teachers wrote, “The response we have heard is universal, most notably from educators who are gun owners, military veterans and National Rifle Association members: Teachers don’t want to be armed; we want to teach.” In a recent survey conducted by the NEA, 82 percent of their members said they would not carry a gun in school. Two-thirds of educators who own guns would not consider carrying a firearm on school property, and two-thirds also said they would feel less safe with armed teachers in their school.
The voices of those who know best overwhelmingly oppose arming teachers. Tell Besty DeVos to listen to them and drop all considerations of using taxpayer funds to arm educators.
(Poster Credit: BBDO Atlanta/Ad Age)
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