Teachers’ unions ‘overwhelmingly reject’ idea of arming school staff

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Bringing guns into schools ‘does nothing to protect’ students, educators from gun violence

AFT PRESIDENT RANDI WEINGARTEN

Washington — In a listening session at the White House yesterday, in the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting in which 17 people died, President Donald Trump proposed arming teachers and school staff in an attempt to prevent mass shootings.

Teachers’ unions were quick to denounce the idea, arguing that schools should instead invest more in school resource officers — trained law enforcement officers who can more effectively respond in a crisis. Having guns in a classroom makes that classroom less safe, they say, and having teachers carrying guns during a crisis will only make a school shooting more confusing for police trying to stop it.

“There is not a schools person I know who would make this case in any credible manner,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers. “Anyone who suggests this has no real understanding of what goes on in schools, or worse doesn’t care, and is more focused on the needs of gun manufacturers and the NRA than of children.

“You’re asking the teacher to have the presence of mind to not only do what her instincts compel her to do, but then find her loaded handgun and get in position … and be a good enough shot — in the middle of all of this — so that she can be the marksperson who then maims or kills the intruder with the rifle,” Weingarten said. “That may work on a movie, but in real life that is not a situation that most people — even those who have been trained — will be able to do.”

AFT represents 1.7 million, pre-K through 12th grade teachers, paraprofessionals and school personnel as well as higher education faculty and professionals.

'BRINGING MORE GUNS into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence," NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said. "Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. "

The National Education Association, which represents three million educators who work in America’s public schools and college campuses, also rejected that idea.

“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said. “Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms.

“Parents and educators overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff. Educators need to be focused on teaching our students,” Garcia said. “We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.

“We owe it to the students and school personnel, who’ve lost their lives at schools and on campuses across the country, to work together so that we can thoughtfully and carefully develop common sense solutions that really will save lives.”

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