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Survey: Teachers Do Not Want to Be Armed

For the past several months people like NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre and others (including some gun manufacturers) have been urging the public to arm teachers in the classroom.  Finally someone had the bright idea to ask teachers how they felt about the idea, and guess what?  Nearly three out of four educators say, “No thanks.”

In an online survey conducted by the School Improvement Network, a teacher training company based in Utah, the great majority of educators said they would be unlikely to bring a gun to school if allowed to do so.  In fact, even among teachers who were gun owners themselves, two out of three said they wouldn’t bring it to school.  Almost 11,000 educators responded to the survey, representing all 50 states.  The survey was conducted in January, only a month after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Nearly 70% of respondents said that their schools have taken steps to improve safety since the shootings at Sandy Hook.  These steps include new door locking systems, security cameras, new lockdown procedures, and more safety drills.   Less than 5% of respondents indicated that their schools have added full-time armed police officers.

The majority of teachers, however, believe that an armed police officer would make their school safer.  While most teachers said they felt their schools were generally safe, 31% said their schools were not safe from gun violence.  Thirty-eight percent of superintendents said the same. Police officers

Some of the schools in my area were able to have resource officers on campus because of grant monies. 
When the money disappeared, so did the officers.  The officers were only hired at the secondary level, and educators reported that the officers worked hard to integrate themselves into the school community, talking with kids and being present at school activities.  Still, the cost of installing an officer in every school in the district was prohibitive, and few schools could afford the investment.  If the school had enough money to hire more personnel, would it hire another first grade teacher to reduce class size or a resource officer?  What would teachers want?  What would parents want?

I wonder if voters would support resource officers in their local schools if the initiative were brought before the public as an individual initiative on the school budget.   Would voters agree to pay more school taxes so that they could have armed officers in their schools?  Or would they support the initiative only if the fiscal responsibility fell to state and federal governments?

The most common new safety measure in schools after Sandy Hook, according to the survey, is locking doors or keeping fewer doors open during the day.  The researchers conclude, “The majority of educators feel an armed guard would increase school safety, though they do not desire to be an armed presence in schools themselves.”  It seems to me unlikely that the safety plans of most schools will include arming officers or anyone else.

 

 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.