Let Our Teachers Teach

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Following the Parkland Florida school shooting, President Trump, along with many on the right, suggested that perhaps we can prevent school shootings by arming teachers - or at least provide financial incentives for teachers to carry arms. This is a terrible idea for many reasons, and it’s also incredibly ignorant of the immense burden teachers already bear. Coming from a family of educators, I’m extremely aware of how underappreciated teachers already are in the United States, and frankly, I’m disappointed with the Republicans even considering this as policy.

First off, diverting federal funds to incentivize teachers to train with and carry weapons is fiscally irresponsible. In 2017, the United States spent $42 billion on the Department of Homeland Security, whose job it is to stop terrorist acts like what we saw in Parkland, and $31 billion on the Department of Justice, under which the FBI is housed. But on top of that $73 billion, the government should also start paying teachers for trainings and incentives to be armed? Instead, President Trump and Congress should address the bloated bureaucracy that may be inhibiting these critical agencies from performing their duties. Of course, it’s an unbelievably difficult job to anticipate and stop attacks like these, but policymakers need to focus on improving our existing security infrastructure before we throw more money at another wasteful program. According to an analysis by the Washington Post, training and arming our public school teachers is estimated to cost anywhere from $250 million up to $1 billion.

To me, it seems the most efficient use of our federal funds is to let those who are specialized in security provide security and let those who are specialized in teaching teach. If we must spend more money on a response to the shooting, divert those funds towards more security personnel for schools or increased mental health services for students. In Parkland, the FBI received warnings but failed to act and at least one armed police deputy at the school failed to intervene during the attack. Clearly there is room to improve these security systems, yet Republicans are willing to shift that burden onto the teachers. Is it also the children’s job to make sure their school is safe? Perhaps we should start giving extra credit to students who carry weapons too.

Aside from the wastefulness of President Trump’s proposal, it’s also just incredibly disrespectful. It’s insane that we’re willing to pay teachers more for carrying guns when the vast majority of public school teachers are already severely underpaid and are often forced to use their own income just to provide their classrooms with basic supplies. Many of these teachers are parents, coaches, spouses, and community leaders who barely have time to take care of themselves, let alone time to go to gun ranges to train for school shootings. There are great teachers across the country who deserve better pay for their competence, selflessness, and dedication to their students, yet President Trump wants to give out rewards for carrying a gun. Day in and day out we demand so much from our educators at all levels; at the very least we should provide them with a certain level of safety so they need not fear being murdered in their own classrooms.

To be fair, I understand that our safety is partly in our own hands, especially in times like these where attacks can happen anywhere. We’d all benefit to better prepare ourselves, our workplaces, and our schools for the possibility of an active shooter situation. However, the president is using our duty to protect ourselves as an excuse for the inaction of the government. The violence in our society is a clear indicator of multi-level policy failures and an overall problem with our culture - all of which need to be addressed by our political leaders. President Trump and the Republicans pushing this policy are willing to demand that teachers go above and beyond their jobs, yet they are totally unwilling to do their own. Let our teachers teach; and policymakers, do your jobs to provide security and pass common sense gun control reform.

 

Thumbnail image is of a Navy active shooter exercise.

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