* Opinions are my own and not my employer’s *
The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL has been a tipping point in the national school safety debate. While numerous school shootings have occurred throughout our nation’s history, Parkland sparked passionate debate similar to conversations following Sandy Hook and Columbine. As we approach the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, it’s clear we have to move from national discussion to national action.
While this is a complex social issue, many proposed resolutions are simplistic in nature. Vitriolic conversations, spurred in part by President Trump’s endorsement to arm educators, dominated social media last week. The President estimated between 10-40 percent of educators were qualified to do this. Trump later clarified his position on Twitter-see below.
This is a myopic and reactive solution to an intricate problem. Essentially, educators would be asked to teach content, build relationships, analyze data, prepare lesson plans, incorporate technology, administer assessments, serve on committees, sponsor clubs…and pack heat. To be clear, my goal is not to slam the President. Proposals to arm educators originated prior to the Trump presidency. However, it’s time to retire this oversimplified solution and engage in authentic discussion to end school violence.
The limitations and liabilities of arming educators are too numerous to list, but one aspect is particularly haunting: It does nothing to address the origins of school shootings- it simply mitigates damages.
If we really want to stop school shootings we have to provide a system of support for at-risk students and families. Schools identify troubled students but lack the resources to hire additional school counselors, psychologists, and social workers to properly intervene. Typically, they are unable to provide ongoing individual and family counseling as well. Law enforcement and juvenile services also lack proper resources to create restorative and rehabilitation programs.
Providing educators with firearms, while economically inexpensive, carries substantial hidden costs by not addressing the origins of school shootings. We should strive to provide educators with resources…not bullets.