When Will We Stop Asking Teachers to do the Jobs of Other Professionals?

Every day, teachers have to go above and beyond, serving as counselors and caregivers. Now we are being asked to serve as law enforcement officers.

Today, I came across an article in the Columbus Dispatch detailing the parameters set forth in several northeast Ohio school districts that have, over the past few years, approved concealed carry for their teaching staff. You can read the entire article here.

I am deeply disturbed by the move of many districts to begin arming teachers. My question to those who support guns in school is this: what’s next? What more are we going to ask of teachers as they carry out the job of teaching our youth? Not to mention the obvious risks that come with teachers carrying weapons, what are we saying to kids about how the adults around them have chosen to handle this epidemic plaguing our school systems? Furthermore, these kinds of decisions by districts change the face of education to that of law enforcement, and frankly, that’s not what most of us signed up for.

As it stands now, America is struggling to maintain a skilled pool of teachers across the nation. According to a study released last spring from Washington-based research firm EPI, in 2012, America’s public schools faced a shortage of 20,000 school teachers. By 2017-18, we were estimated to have a shortage of over 110,000 teachers, and that number is believed to be even higher. Adding “law enforcement” to our job requirements will only cause that number to rise.

I understand the importance of protecting our youth, but I won’t be convinced there isn’t a better way than arming teachers. There has to be some other solution besides putting this on teachers, too. Yes, by carrying a gun, a teacher could potentially be saving lives, but to do so, they may have to shoot a child they loved with all their heart and soul. Did anyone ever think of that? And when you live in small district like mine, that child could also be the child of a friend or a family member.

I will end by saying this. I shoot guns. I own them. I am trained to handle firearms and I have been involved in the sport of shooting for over 20 years. Guns are not foreign to me nor to anyone in my immediate family. But, I do not feel, as teachers, these are the things we should be carrying into our classrooms. Our jobs have evolved to include so much more than teaching, now we are being asked to add law enforcement to our list of duties. Someone, please tell me, how much is enough?

~ Dawn Harris

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