In the recent years of school shootings becoming more consistent around the United States, many people are impacted. One people group that is directly impacted by gun violence on school property is teachers and school administrators. With the gun violence happening in schools, what does that mean for teachers? How do they feel about their work atmosphere? Ashley Lamb-Sinclair from The Atlantic spent some time interviewing teachers after the Parkland shooting and she writes, “In these conversations, what I came to understand is that being a teacher today means working in a climate of intense fear—both their own and that of their students… To say the least, it’s not what they thought they were signing up for” (Lamb-Sinclair, The Atlantic). Teachers who once had a role of being an educator and supporter for students now are required to slide into the role of being a “bodyguard and protector” (Turkewitz, New York Times). Schools that once just had basic weather and fire drills now must have active shooter drills as a part of the school culture. Teachers are required to plan for dangerous situations and deal with the jarring feelings that come from this type of crisis. Teachers walk into their jobs every day wondering if they will have to make hard decisions or even give their life for their students (Turkewitz, New York Times). A day of safety and a solution to the violence often seems far away.
Since the Parkland school shooting in February 2018, there has been a rise in conversation about solving the problem of violence on school grounds. The Trump Administration is arguing that arming teachers may be part of the solution to preventing school shootings. There are strong opinions for and against arming teachers. Often, it is easy to delve into the political ideas and thoughts about arming teachers as a solution without considering what the teachers think should happen. Do they believe it would be helpful? Are the willing to do it? According to a series of studies done by Gallup, “73% of teachers oppose the idea of teachers and staff carrying guns in schools” (Brenan, Gallup). Additionally, “58% [of teachers] say carrying guns in schools would make schools less safe” and only “18% [of teachers] would be willing to carry a gun in school buildings” (Brenan, Gallup). Lastly, “7 in 10 teachers think carrying guns would not effectively limit the number of victims in the event of a shooting” (Brenan, Gallup). The results of these studies indicate that perhaps the idea of arming teachers as a solution to gun violence at school is not something that is easy to sell to the teachers themselves. Ultimately, many teachers do not think that their carrying a gun would be helpful in solving the issue. If teachers are not for carrying guns, what do they believe will help the issue of gun violence in schools? Many educators are supporting stricter gun laws; about one-third of educators asked took this stance (Kamenetz, NPR). However, the two most consistent responses from teachers about what should be done to help gun violence in schools were universal background checks and banning semiautomatic weapons. 57% of teachers were in favor of both those solutions (Kamenetz, NPR).
In unique ways, teachers are being impacted by the presence of gun violence at schools because of the role they now must take to protect students. They are impacted by the political arguments about whether they should carry guns. Lastly, teachers are impacted because these incidents are happening in their own workplace. In traumatic ways, teachers are being impacted by their very workplaces being unsafe. Just as much as students should feel safe at school, teachers should feel safe and seeking their safety is important.
Brenan, M. Most U.S. Teachers Oppose Carrying Guns in Schools. Gallup. http://news.gallup.com/poll/229808/teachers-oppose-carrying-guns-schools.aspx?g_source=link_newsv9&g_campaign=item_230336&g_medium=copy
Kamenetz, A. Poll: Most U.S. Teachers Want Gun Control, Not Guns To Carry. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/03/22/595648318/poll-most-u-s-teachers-want-gun-control-not-guns-to-carry
Lamb-Sinclair, A. Teaching While Afraid. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/02/teaching-while-afraid/553931/
Turkewitz, J. School Shootings Put Teachers in New Role as Human Shields. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/us/teachers-school-shootings.html
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