Educators demand comprehensive steps to protect kids


by Brian Washington

Why not go with what works? That’s the question educators are asking following the release of the NRA’s so-called school safety plan, which ignores sensible solutions for creating safe learning environments and, instead, promotes arming educators and putting more guns on school grounds.

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The NRA’s plan was released yesterday and represents the gun lobby’s attempt to prevent senseless tragedies like the school-house shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 young children and 6 educators died after being brutally gunned down.

The plan is drawing criticism nationwide from educators who realize the best way to protect students is by taking a preventive approach to school safety, which includes greater access to mental health services for students and comprehensive training programs for teachers and education support professionals that focus on issues like bullying and creating safe environments for all students.

MA Educator Jean Faye working with a student
MA educator Jean Fay working with a student

“Guns in schools are simply not acceptable whether it is a deranged shooter or a teacher,” said Lucia Baez, a classroom teacher just outside Miami, Florida. “We need to raise awareness about the root cause of these senseless tragedies, not continue to exacerbate the problem by solidifying the ideology that guns are perfectly acceptable.”

Jean Fay, an educator who grew up in Newtown but now lives in Massachusetts, recently authored an opinion editorial in the Washington Post addressing the need for more counseling services for students.

“The children of our nation are the most valuable resource we possess,” said Fay. “We need to provide a school environment where children feel safe and nurtured. Arm our teachers, our guidance counselors, our support staff with the resources they need to reach and teach every student, every day.”

“As a school counselor and strong advocate for safer schools, students need access to more mental health professionals to do the prevention and intervention work that is nearly impossible to do with current caseloads,” said Vincent Pompei, a San Diego educator who testified in February before a congressional committee on school safety. “Educators are thirsty for professional development on how to create safe, welcoming and inclusive schools that few districts have provided.”

CA educator Vincent Pompei testifying at a congressional hearing
CA educator Vincent Pompei testifying at a congressional hearing

Dennis Van Roekel, an Arizona math teacher and President of the National Education Association, issued a statement in response to the NRA plan on behalf of the more than 3 million educators represented by the NEA. He also used the opportunity to echo calls for more laws that focus on violence prevention.

“We are disappointed that the NRA leadership has chosen not to focus on common sense gun violence prevention measures that must be part of a comprehensive plan to help ensure the safety of our 50 million students,” said Van Roekel, who also made reference to NEA’s “Bully Free” campaign, which is designed by educators to put more caring adults into the lives of bullied students and prevent tragedies before they occur.

NEA also recently released two information graphics via facebook focusing on the impact gun violence has on kids entitled “Running” and “Evening News.” Both display a toll free number, 1-866-331-SAFE (7233), people can use to call their lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and urge them to pass common sense gun laws, including universal background checks for all gun purchases. The Senate is expected to take up legislation connected to this issue within the coming weeks.


“We must demand that our legislators pass meaningful enforceable legislation to prevent gun violence,” said Donna Nielsen, an Indiana bus driver who got her local lawmakers to fund a training program to help her colleagues identify and prevent emergency situations that may occur on a school bus. “I do not believe seeing school employees carrying weapons in our schools will instill a feeling of safety in our students, or in the minds of their parents.”

Help educators put pressure on Capitol Hill lawmakers to enact common sense gun legislation by signing our petition and sharing the Running and Evening News information graphics with family and friends via facebook.

Reader Comments

  1. I have been a teacher for 28 years. I own and know how to use guns, and I am fairly strong and fit (ran a marathon a couple of years ago). BUT, I know that if I had a gun at school, there could come a time when a student might be able to get that gun away from me (anyone who thinks you can teach effectively and focus on keeping a gun completely inaccessible at all times has not done the job) and use it to hurt someone. Sure, maybe the armed teacher next door would get there after the 3rd or 4th shot; does this scenario really make anyone feel safe? If we put more guns in schools, there will be more gun violence; it is simple math. More guns is not the answer. Maybe some inner-city schools need more armed security guards and gun detection devices, but most of our schools would be better served by providing the help that students need, training for teachers, and some basic common-sense safety policies.

  2. I have to say I read the NSS report and was actually impressed with the depth of analysis. My issue is when an organization,such as NEA, speaks for me without my input. I would have gladly completed a survey on the issue had one been offered. I am also an NRA member and appreciate the fact that they elicit my input via surveys. I know some who will say my view is biased, I actually think my viewpoint is very balanced having actually read the full 225 page report. I wonder how many have taken the time to read it?

  3. I listened to both the Presidents speech and the NRA press conference. One thing was crystal clear. The NRA gathered data from multiple sources and gave provided both money and training that makes an immediate impact on safety in all schools. The President only offered an emotional plea to “do it for the kids”. Well I believe that training and simple things like locks that lock are the real common sense steps. Removing guns, banning guns are just emotional responses that provide a legacy of victims. Restricting generations of Americans freedoms, will have no immediate impact, and will ultimately leave “the children” defenseless. It is really no different than the spending borrowed money for the kids!

  4. There should be no difference between a properly trained teacher to carry a defensive weapon than a properly trained police officer. In my opinion, the sick individuals who shoot up innocent, unprotected others seem to want power and destiny control in order to take lives of others and their own selves. They seem to be in fear of someone else killing them, therefore they don’t shoot up police stations. Our children and teachers need to be protected and don’t need to be sitting ducks. Also, teachers don’t need to be abused by students, administrators, and lawmakers who want to take away their means of protection. I wish our world was perfect, civilized, and free of individuals who want to self destruct themselves and innocent, unprotected others. It’s not, so I choose to legally protect myself, my coworkers, and my children. What school can guarantee 100% total protection in a 100% safe classroom? None.

  5. Actually it IS our school kids with guns. Even more OFTEN than the outsiders coming in. It is the “get even” thoughts of the shooters that is the most dangerous. Let’s deal with school climate psychology as preventative. This seems to have been true in Sandy Hook, although delayed for years. Then let the law enforcement professionals respond by only shooting at gun wielders not trying to guess “Is that an armed teacher or a shooter?” when they arrive.

  6. It is time for all of us to come together and push our policy makers to incorporate laws that 1. mandate safety training for all school personnel regarding hostile scenarios.
    2. Require school districts to randomly search for weapons.
    3. Provide a security system that will involve detectors and monthly drills to insure that they function adequately.
    4. We have to become proactive or we will continue to witness tragedies in our schools. We cannot pretend that it will not happen in our districts. Our schools must take precaution.

  7. Grow up people,it is not our school kids with gun’s it is the outsider’s coming in. No we are not walking around with guns hanging out in the open for all the kids to see. It is called (concealed) weapons man and you are school teachers. You put up signs that say this school is protected by guns and nothing more needs to be said. Do you want to enter a place with a gun in your hand that has a sign in the window that says no guns permitted, or protected by guns. Your choice.

    1. Is it not obvious by now, to the so called modern person, that an eye for an eye is best left to the almighty God and not to mere mortals!

  8. To government officials,
    As an individual, I am totally against guns whether used for hunting or other purposes. As a teacher, I am absolutely against arming school personnel with guns or other weapons. Instead, the country should be arming teachers and school staff with strategies and training to work with students to assist them with issues that affect them today including their families, friends, townships, and the world around them. Bullying has become a serious concern in school as have gangs and not only in the cities but in the surrounding areas.

    1. What do you think those looking down a barrel pointed at them wished they had just before they died? A “strategy” or a concealed weapon? I have been threatened by an individual with a gun. My “strategy” was self protection with a gun and the reason you’re reading this and not an obituary about me on CNN is because I was protected by a gun. No, this wasn’t at school. If you’ve taught as long as I have, you’ll know that our world isn’t perfect and neither are the children and the parents.

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