Ohio gets serious
Monday’s Wheeling papers had a long (by their standards) article on teachers carrying guns in Ohio schools. After quoting Trump on what a great idea it is, the article tells us:
Under the cloak of security, school districts in 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties have armed teachers — many without telling the public. A growing number of districts, including Zanesville, Coshocton, East Guernsey, Cambridge and Edison Local, have made the decision to arm staff members.
Earlier this year, the Dayton Daily News reported that there were nearly 200 school districts with special response teams in place in 68 counties.
The article features what has happened in the Barnesville School District. In addition to arming staff members, the district has amped-up its security:
All Barnesville buildings are in full lockdown at all times. There are video surveillance cameras spread throughout all the district buildings. There are 49 in the high school alone, with three of those being night vision cameras. The cameras can also be viewed and accessed by local law enforcement through the Navigate Prepared system.
Barnesville High School Principal Ron Clark said law enforcement can respond and be at the school location within three to five minutes. The district also has a safety committee that includes local first responders and meets monthly to discuss safety concerns. Each building has a safety plan that is certified each year and on file with the Ohio Department of Education and Homeland Security. Regular safety drills are conducted annually.
Full lockdown? Video surveillance everywhere? Is this a great atmosphere for teaching or what? (The article did not mention whether there was also a mandatory watching of Sinclair Broadcasting’s “Terrorism Alert Desk” to begin the school day.)
What do teachers think?
Here is the most recent survey I could find -- from Gallup, last March.
For the most part, teachers across the country do not agree with the proposal, and they dispute two of the main reasons for arming teachers: that it would make schools safer and limit casualties during a shooting.
• While 73% of teachers oppose special training to arm them in school, 20% strongly or somewhat favor it and 7% are neutral.
• Likewise, while 58% of teachers think arming them and their colleagues would make schools less safe, 20% think it would make schools safer and 22% do not think it would make any difference.
• Twenty-nine percent of teachers think that arming teachers would be very or somewhat effective in limiting the number of victims of a school shooting, while 71% say it would not be effective.
What do parents think?
Last July, the Washington Post reported on a poll done by PDK International (“an association of teachers administrators and other education professionals”):
Most parents express scant enthusiasm for arming schoolteachers, preferring metal detectors and mental-health screening as tools to keep students safe, according to a survey released Tuesday. Asked to choose between two potential ways of addressing school safety, 76 percent of all adults and 71 percent of parents of school-age children preferred mental-health services for students over armed guards in schools.
However, it did find:
Support for arming teachers rose to about half of all parents when asked about a program that includes special training in weapons and approval of local authorities. With a training program in place, support among Republicans for armed teachers rose to 76 percent.
What do those who have witnessed a school shooting think?
The Broward County’s School Superintendent, Robert Runcie, recently wrote an op-ed on the subject for Politico in which he argued that arming teachers would not end school violence:
. . . . I have spent a lot of time working on the issue of school safety, and in the process have consulted with national experts, parents, teachers, students and the public about the efficacy and merit of arming teachers to combat in-school shootings. Without a doubt, the general consensus is that arming teachers to “fight fire with fire,” so to speak, is a bad idea. . . .
All of the additional firearms in a school building would certainly pose more danger. Accidental discharges, stolen firearms, and guns falling from holsters are a few of the foreseeable problems that may ensue. In the event of another tragic shooting requiring a teacher to pull out a gun hoping to intervene, it is impossible to guarantee that responding law enforcement can distinguish between a teacher they have never met and the active shooter.
Finally, should we be using federal grant money under the "Every Student Succeeds Act" to arm the schools?
As Huffington Post just reported:
. . . . in late August, [Education Secretary] DeVos said she would not restrict how these grant funds are spent, writing that she had “no intention of taking any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff.” The law, as she interpreted it, gives schools substantial flexibility in this area.
That prompted a freedom of information lawsuit filed today by The American Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. These groups were interested in how the NRA and other groups were involved in the decision to allow the purchase of guns with education money.
The article quotes the AFT President, Randi Weingarten:
She wants to turn the U.S. government into an arms dealer for schools. That’s insane. . . . It’s time Betsy DeVos starts standing up for kids and teachers, not the NRA.
The answer to gun violence is more guns? Yeah, right.