When Our Schools Become the Wild, Wild West
I thought the headline reading, “Two states aim to arm teachers despite opposition from educators and experts” was a satirical joke yet after reading the article, I was quickly reminded of the persistent and egregious abuse of political weight happening in the U.S. I use “political weight” deliberatively here to describe the pressure and energy used by politicians to sponsor and approve legislation that contributes to the continued harm, damage, and degradation of this country and K-12 education.
There is no evidence to support that arming teacher and school administrators with guns will reduce mass shootings in schools. However, there is evidence that tells us guns kill people, and people with guns in their hands whether with intention or by accident harm and kill others. Thus, allowing teachers and school administrators to be armed is an open call to our schools becoming the wild, wild west with a bunch of gun-slinging individuals ready to put a bullet into the bodies of another. I was surprised by the number of states in the U.S. that currently have such legislation in place. There are 28 out of the 50 states in the U.S. that allow teachers and school administrators to carry firearms in the classroom.
Instead of working to improve education, improve the placement of mental health counselors, and social workers in schools, to provide more funding to schools so they can support educators, students, and families, we have politicians sponsoring and passing legislation like arming teachers and school administrators with guns with a high level of speed. For example, in Ohio alone, there is a long history of education inequity. The recent back and forth political tactics that led to the “Fair School Funding Plan” still reified a funding structure that leads to school districts in certain neighborhoods being underfunded. We can all probably conclude what are the demographics of those neighborhoods with underfunded schools. While the prolonged and decades-long fight for equitable funding remains, this same state’s politicians were able to move quickly on sponsoring a law to get firearms versus funds and resources into the hands of teachers.
One must ask the question, why? Why do these politicians move with such reactionary speed to pass such laws yet seem delayed or resistant to other laws? There could be many answers to this question. For one, allowing teachers and school administrators to have guns can funnel money into the gun industry. People would need the training to learn how to use a gun. People would need to pay for the training and people would need to pay for the gun. In this case, there is a huge economic incentive to the gun industry from such legislation. Secondly, a school workforce that remains majority white while the student body continues to become increasing nonwhite continues to emphasize the need rrr white bodies to police and restrict Black and Brown ones.
Did you know some states just require a minimum of 25 hours of training? Did you know there is inconclusive evidence around how firearm training reduces gun violence?
We are allowing politicians to turn our schools into the wild, wild west. More than two centuries ago, “the wild west” captured the culture of gunslingers, the violence of U.S expansion in the west that was further accompanied by greed. Although back then it was believed that the massive violence against the Indigenous people and land claims were about expansion and the reinvention of the U.S. In this case, there are no reinventions here just further devastation and schools where children will never feel safe and feel secured.