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Arming Teachers Is Not a Solution to Stop Gun Violence in Schools

By Marcie Craig Post
 | Mar 07, 2018

armingteachers1The prevalence of school shootings in the United States underscores an urgent and, so far, unmet need of devising comprehensive measures that protect students, teachers, and staff in education spaces.

While the specifics of those measures are, and ought to be, open to fair debate, the notion that arming teachers is the best answer to preventing recurrences of this type of tragedy is preposterous.

We are already seeing action. State lawmakers across the country have introduced legislation specifically prohibiting classroom teachers from carry guns, such as in New York. And, earlier this week, the Florida state Senate took action to halt the movement toward arming classroom educators. 

Teaching and security enforcement are two different roles. Combining them is impractical and unwise, even if proposed with the best of intentions. The challenges of effective literacy instruction for students are formidable enough. Neither teachers, nor students, should have to wrestle with the distraction of gun-equipped classrooms.

Everyone deserves to feel safe in the classroom. Teachers need to give their full attention and effort to each day’s learning. They need schools unfettered by violence. What we are hearing from our members and other educators is that introducing weapons into the teacher-student relationship shatters any shared sense of safety and security.

Talk to literacy teachers and you will quickly find out how precious a commodity their instructional time is, and how demanding a preparation is required for them to be at their most effective in the classroom. Asking teachers to learn how to use weapons, arm themselves, and undertake security enforcement roles while teaching is not only burdensome, distracting, and education-impairing, it’s downright dangerous.

To place on teachers the additional responsibility of having to use deadly physical force against an armed assailant who has managed to enter school grounds with lethal ordinance distorts and perverts the teaching function. It further puts teachers and students at risk as shown by instances where weapons have accidently or, at times intentionally, been misused.

It also gives would-be assailants the ultimate and undeserved victory of making schools a weapons-based environment.

This is hardly the legacy that teachers and students at schools which have had to contend with episodes of gun violence would wish for. We owe it to them and to ourselves to do much better than that.

The International Literacy Association denounces the very idea of arming classroom teachers. Yes, we should talk about how we can increase safety of school perimeters. Yes, we should talk about resources to help early identification and treatment for mental health issues. And yes, we need better communication and coordination between the agencies we have in place to protect us.

That’s why ILA calls upon government officials, federal and local authorities, and school officials to fashion security measures for the nation’s schools that preserve safe learning spaces by keeping the instruments of violence out of them, save for those possessed by law enforcement officers.

Many commentators on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy have noted the maturity and eloquence of the school’s students whom they have spoken with on the air. The students are indeed striking examples of the poignancy and power that literacy education instills.

We’re proud of these students and proud of their teachers. We want to see a solution for school security that supports without diminishing the focused learning opportunities they have enjoyed and leveraged to such an impressive effect.

Marcie Craig Post is the executive director of the International Literacy Association (ILA).


Leave a comment
  1. Linda B | Mar 14, 2018
    Let's hire armed security officers for our schools, and leave teachers free to teach.  We have armed security officers to protect our President, White House, celebrities, and sometimes property.  Don't America's kids deserve the same protection?  Some people advocate taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.  Problem is, the criminals will still get weapons on the black market.  Look at illegal drugs in our country - the bad guys still find ways to get things that are outlawed.  We won't be any safer if bad guys have all the guns, and nobody else has any protection.
  2. lniebauer | Mar 14, 2018
    I agree that arming teachers would disrupt the atmosphere of the classroom. But is it because we have never done so before? I'm not saying we should or should not arm teachers. I'm not certain right now what we should do. But we all know there is definitely an issue with keeping our schools safe from killers, whether they are armed with a gun or a knife, or whatever. It's good to throw ideas out on the table for discussion. Get the pros and cons out there, see what is best. Get lots of feedback from ALL SIDES AND POINTS OF VIEW. We all want our schools safe. That's the bottom line. So what is the best way to do it? I'm not angry that the idea of teachers carrying has been put out there. It never hurts to discuss it. If the consensus represents what is truly felt, and not just one side, then an honest and open decision can be made. Let's just get something going to secure out schools, and if there turns out to be a way to change or improve that then great! We can't be afraid to discuss and try. 
  3. Lynn | Mar 14, 2018

    I totally agree with what Ms. Craig said in this article and I would give 100% support in ILA's objective of looking for a more humane method of addressing and solving the problem on keeping safe and secure the school premises and everyone who works in the school.  

    There is really a need to know more about family history of students.  After all, the family is the basic unit and foundation of society.  How the student behaves reflects the kind of upbringing that student has or had. The students who come to school have different family breeding, backgrounds, cultures and history.  If schools have firsthand information about individual student's background, violent cases may be prevented from happening.

    I hope that violence is school will be addressed wisely and appropriately without requiring teachers to use ferocity against ferocity.

  4. Margaret McKeown | Mar 13, 2018
    Thank you for a clear, reasonable statement on this issue.
  5. Renee | Mar 13, 2018

    I would beg to disagree.  Though, no teacher should be FORCED to be armed if they do not want to, the arming of teachers is not the evil portrayed by many.  Teacher's already perform duties far outside their 'training'.  No one thinks twice when a teacher intervenes between two fighting students, students who are being bullied, or students who are doing the bullying, or when a child is need of food, clothing and even a shoulder to cry on.  To assume these responsibilities should be shirked because they aren't part of our 'training' is unthinkable.  However, when teachers are given an opportunity to intervene in a life and death situation rather than sitting there shielding those precious children we spend more time with than our families, one has to reach far to find a reason to deny a willing teacher to carry a weapon that may prevent their deaths.  

    Fire extinguishers were meant for fire fighters initially, when it was realized, earlier access to one could prevent unimaginable tragedies.  In much the same way, providing earlier access to a deterrent as powerful as a gun in the face of one bent on death and destruction can also prevent the loss of life.  

    Rather than stating, "arming teachers is not the answer" and "gun control" will somehow make a difference.  One must look at the causation of so many sad, depressed, angry, and homicidal children. What is going wrong and what do we need to be doing different?  

    Our school is not addressing the tragedy in Florida directly.  Rather we are participating in the 'walk out' by walking silently to our gymnasium where we are having a huge pep rally with the theme #enough.  We chose to talk about how we need to be kind 'enough', strong 'enough', 'enough' of a friend, and we are all 'enough' to be whatever we dream to be.  We put a positive spin on the topic but are working hard to pound an important message into these students.  WE NEED TO BE ENOUGH to prevent students from being outsiders.  We need students to know we SEE them and we are going to be there.   We need to step up, every single one of us need to embrace the prickly kid, the one that pushes us away, the ones that are setting up walls around.  As these are the little ones that grow up to hate the world, because. . . they were never 'enough'.  

    So let's redirect this topic away from the issue that will actually do little to prevent the child from ever feeling like a mass shooting is the way to solve an issue.  Let's start talking about what will go far in preventing the need for teachers to carry a weapon.  Until then, well I know I'd feel better if I was confident someone in my building could actually do something rather than begging for lives to be saved or dying.  


  6. Rita Persons | Mar 13, 2018

    As an administrator, I agree with the facts that teachers already bare huge multi facited responsibilities in  

    their roles and should not be expected to add the massive responsibility of firearms in their classrooms. 

  7. Peggy Semingson | Mar 13, 2018
    Thank you for sharing this, Marcie!

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