Arms at School
Arkansas State University
ELAD 7033: Contemporary Issues in American Education
Fall 2013 - Term 1
Part I: Introduction Good afternoon Community Partners. It's a great pleasure for me to meet with all of you at this end of the year gathering. This meeting wraps up my first year as your superintendent of schools and, as always, it is quite exciting for me to see so many faces here. Thanks to all of you, student success in our district continues to grow, and while progress is being made, we will continue our collective efforts until every child is succeeding in every aspect of their education. With that spirit in mind, we are looking at making significant changes in 2013 as we address the need for student safety. Due to the apparent increase in violent acts committed by or on students in recent months, the county is considering the adoption of a policy to arm school staff. Through the use of print and electronic news sources, professional contacts, and other nationwide sources the National School Safety and Security Services has identified 284 deaths that occurred between 1999 and 2010 and where a "clear result of school-related incidents/conflicts, functions, or activities" (National School Safety and Security Services, 2012). I believe these acts are totally unacceptable and that it is our job as educators "to promote a safe and supportive learning environment in schools and to protect students and staff from conduct that poses a serious threat to school safety" (Florida Department of Education, 2013). It is hardly a surprise that many people are calling for a change, nor is it surprising that so few agree on how this change should be accomplished. The issue of arming school staff may be one of the most controversial propositions ever discussed regarding the American education system. Arming school staff is an issue that has received strong support from groups such as the National Rifle Association and equally strong opposition from groups like the National School Safety and Security Services. As the district has not yet decided its position on this matter, you still have a voice concerning this and other issues through school board meetings and your union representatives. With that in mind, here are a few pros and cons you should consider.
Part II: Pros When arguing in support of arming school staff advocates routinely cite the safety of our children and the lack of ability to do so at school. Rep. Dennis Baxley of Florida reiterates this point stating "I want my children safe and in our overwhelming desire to protect our children with gun free zones we have inadvertently made them the ideal sterile target for a madman and the unwillingness of people to confront that reality is unacceptable" (Associated Press, 2013). In an effort to provide meaningful security for students in an economical way, Clarksville Superintendent David Hopkins pleaded with the Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies to allow his school to continue using teachers, administrators, and other staff as armed guards. Hopkins stated "it was a cheaper option than hiring private security guards or paying for police to act as school resource officers" (DeMillo, 2013). Advocates of arming school staff also point out "the average duration of Active Shooter incidents in Institutions of Higher Education within the United States is 12.5 minutes. In contrast, the average response time of campus and local law enforcement to these incidents is 18 minutes" (Ergenbright and Hubbard, 2012). Due to these slow wait times, it is often the case that only the potential victims are in the position to stop the attacker.
Part III: Cons Kenneth S. Trump, President of National School Safety and Security Services, advises school districts against allowing teachers and school staff to be armed. Trump reasons "school districts considering arming teachers and school staff with guns would take on