Dear Betsy DeVos – The Only “Arming” of Teachers Should be Done With Resources and Fully Funded Public Schools

As a teacher, I cannot legally give a student an aspirin tablet.

My high school has five counselors for over 2400 students. There is one part-time social worker. There is one school psychologist assigned to multiple schools at one time. A school nurse is on campus only one day a week.

As a country we require people to have a license to drive a car, we regulate alcohol, and we determine who can operate businesses at certain places. We cannot even put an addition on a house that we outright own unless it passes several stages of permits.

But at 18-years of age, one becomes old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes and an AR-15. That’s three years before one can buy a beer legally.

Lawmakers set these guidelines. Interesting that some think I should carry a gun to protect students from shooters.

I am a teacher of 20 years in public schools. And I want to tell Betsy DeVos that I will never carry a weapon on my person as a teacher in any school despite what was suggested in wake of the recent report by the Trump safety panel created after the school shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

As reported by the Washington Post this week:

The commission called on states to adopt laws that restrict people who present an extreme risk from possessing or buying guns. But the report said an “appropriate evidentiary standard” must exist and said some states have gone too far in taking away gun rights without balancing due process considerations.

The report suggests that school systems consider arming and training teachers or other personnel to prevent, recognize and respond to threats of violence. That could include school resource officers, who are typically law enforcement officers, and school personnel, which could include administrators and teachers.

“Placement of specially trained personnel in schools is an effective tool in stopping acts of school violence,” the report says.

washpost

I don’t ever remember part of my training as a teacher whether in the classroom or in the field involving carrying a weapon to protect school children. Something in me clings to the idea that I am trying to arm my students with the ability to think for themselves and become productive citizens based on their choices in pursuing life, liberty, and happiness.

But Betsy DeVos wants to me to consider carrying a weapon because I am a public school teacher? She wants me to carry a weapon in an arena that she as the top education official in the nation has no experience ever working in?

The following was DeVos’s resume in public education at this point two years ago when she assumed her post:

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In fact,

  • Betsy DeVos still has no degree in education meaning she is still not even educated in how to educate.
  • Betsy DeVos still has no teaching experience. NONE, but she is an official for public schools in the nation.
  • Betsy DeVos never attended a public school or state supported university. None of her children have either.
  • Betsy DeVos’s monetary contributions to Christian-based schools and evangelical organizations has been conservatively estimated at $200 million. That is still growing.
  • Betsy DeVos is totally anti-union and believes that teachers are paid too much.
  • Betsy DeVos supports vouchers like no other.

And she thinks teachers should carry guns?

And now that we are approaching two years into this current administration, it might be worth looking at what DeVos has done as a public education official in the country besides cowering to the gun lobby by wanting to combat possible guns in schools with more guns and no glance at possible gun control.

  • Betsy DeVos has tirelessly promoted school choice without mentioning the challenges that come with school choice and the effects on traditional public schools.
  • Betsy DeVos proclaimed that schools need guns to protect them from grizzly bears.
  • Betsy DeVos remarked how historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) were the “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” Just look at the speech at Bethune-Cookman during last year’s graduation to see the response to that.
  • Betsy DeVos has shown to be unknowledgeable of the basic tenants of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Betsy DeVos removed consumer protection rules on student loans and allowed for collection fees for some borrowers to be put back into effect.
  • Betsy DeVos removed protection for transgender students in public schools.
  • Betsy DeVos rolled back protections for victims in college campus sexual assault.
  • Betsy DeVos has allowed many positions in the Department of Education to remain vacant.
  • DeVos has cost taxpayers lots in just having a certain entourage with her on her travels because she is so polarizing that she requires security.
  • She’s still donating money to privatization efforts.

And in those two years I still have to fork over my own money to buy supplies.

We have not had new textbooks in over ten years.

We have a lower per-pupil expenditure in this state than we did years ago adjusted for inflation.

We have school buildings that are literally falling apart.

And my lawmakers want to privatize public schools in North Carolina in such an explicit manner that we are seeing dramatic drops in teacher candidates to teach our students. Yet DeVos and the Trump administration want to “arm” me when they won’t even fully fund the very place I would be called upon to protect.

Not one student who survived the massacre at Douglas High School has called for arming teachers. In fact in a post on Facebook a couple of the teachers who were very near the lines of fire talked about what teachers could always do in such horrific circumstances. They never mentioned being armed. They talked about being prepared. They talked about drills, locking doors, staying away from windows.

And those students from Douglas have been pleading tirelessly for gun control. Loudly. This teacher is taking their word for it.

If Betsy DeVos really wanted to “arm” teachers, then she would push for fully funding our schools with every resource possible and giving back those protections for students who need our support the most.

But what DeVos and others have shown is how willingly uneducated they are.

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