Florida legislatures are putting guns in the hands of their teachers; instead of more books. The state of Florida vote to allow teachers to hold guns on campus, with proper training and approval of district leader. According to Tampa Bay Times, the bill aims to provide guns to every school, offering a $500 stipend to volunteers who agree to have the guns. There is an estimated 37,000 guns in classrooms state-wide.
Representatives in the state who advocated for this law to go to senate urge that this is their response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre, ignoring the 50% of state Florida residents who are in disagreement with permitting teachers to be armed on campus.
With all that being said, I’m scrolling through my google to do some more research and a news event pops up announcing that a teacher, Mr. Davidson, in Georgia, locks up his students in a classroom an begin shooting. 17 lives were taken in Georgia that day. This teacher has had a history of suspicious behavior. In March 2016, detectives found that he had tried to hire a hitman to have someone killed. January 2017, he left school early and was found on a curb by police. He was unresponsive and was hospitalized. In both cases, there was no further actions met.
Mr. Davidson was a social studies teachers in his late 50’s and considered a favorite to some. He was able to hide most of this tension, and yet, even in moments when he displayed concerning behavior, his sanity was not questioned. Though teachers are at threat to massive shooting and even school violence, it should not lead to teachers having to arm themselves as a response to preserving their safety. The shooting with Mr. Davidson proves that placing guns in the hands of teachers will not fix the attacks of students, as Trump stated earlier this week in a tweet.
Though teachers may be “highly trained,” there is still too much at risk. Many teachers have organized against this possibility, protecting their own rights with the students. Mr. Davidson's shooting case reflects an extreme case of teacher mental instability; however, it does bring into question the governing systems (school system, police dept, etc) effectivity of screening teachers and also the anxiety level of even the most "normal" appearing educators.
Concern 1: Teacher anxiety in high stakes classroom --we all did some crazy things
Nora Hart conducted a survey in 2005 that indicates a high correlation with pupil disruption, class control, and teacher anxiety. Our classrooms are shifty and changing. Teachers tackle with student behavior, system dysfunctions, and other interactions that can trigger us. We have all felt anger towards a student or colleague; almost cried in class; and some of us, cussed out students. As teachers, we get overwhelmed and learning to control our emotions is a part of our professional development.
Teacher Anxiety. When any individual experiences an anxiety attack, they are unable to process the information getting sent to his/her brain thoroughly. Sensory processing is important in connecting the mind and unconscious brain, which includes meaning making, threat evaluation, and executing appropriate action.
The anxiety level of teachers should be a priority concern for the general public that agrees with arming our educators. Even the most stable person can act irrationally in high stress environments--when the option of a gun is available, anything can happen. And as we are learning from the Georgia shooting, our social systems still have gaps when screening the mental stability of our teachers. It would be negligent to entrust all of our teachers a voluntary opportunity to carry weapons. I even propose that the more stable and secured teachers are opposed this law because we see the high risks we put our students and selves in.
Concern 2: Teachers are not cops
Giving teachers gun will only further perpetuate the schools as prisons. We are not cops; nor will a professional development meeting train us to be cops. Guns are a sign of enforced authority and pressure. If we have a gun in our class we betray the trust of our students. If we are trying to make classrooms into families, a gun defies that effort.
Wellness for Teachers: Wellness for Schools
Instead, let’s continue to work on wellness. Self care of our students AND TEACHERS. Let’s buy our teachers books to read for their own growth and books for their students. Let’s make an effort to make our teachers happy and well. A declare that guns are the solution is shallow approach to “stopping” school violence. There is a deeper issue within our school system. A teacher shooting only further affirms what student shootings highlight, which is that individuals in the education system are manifesting the chaos and neglect the apparatus beholds. The poverty (including violence) we see in schools--poverty not as in lack of monetary capital, but all forms of capital--is a consequence of the government's positioning to keep down our people of color. The truth is coming out. Respond by bringing life; not opportunities of death.
Acting on violence with violence will only further our paranoia with the people in the system, when we should be working together to look at the system that has a historical prevalence of oppression and slavery upon our people. When we are combatting the wrong antagonist; it is not the students we need to be afraid of, but rather the disillusionment of the people. Arming teachers will not shift mindsets of the general public to invest knowledge and dismantle Jim Crow's lasting legacy. Arming teachers will distract our efforts for freedom and invest us in further killing each other. It makes ending a life an option; ending a life in the classroom should never be an option.
In class, we are reading Letter From Birmingham. As I look back in the passages of King's devotion to non-violence; I question how far have we really progressed if our president encourages us to arm ourselves as teachers.