Two coincidental stories about guns in schools just might be driving the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) crazy.
According to KOAA News, nearly 100 Centennial State teachers and school staff members have gone through a volunteer program for armed teachers, and more such courses are planned for the summer.
Meanwhile, schools in South Dakota and Iowa are offering a hunter safety/firearm safety segment in some physical education courses.
This news comes after AFT President Randi Weingarten declared in a news release the other day that a federal commission on school safety did not take “a strong stance” against arming teachers.
“While the report proposes some worthy strategies already recommended by students, teachers and school staff—including support for school counselors, cyberbullying prevention, extreme-risk protection orders, the troops-to-teachers program, and active shooter training—it does not contain a single proposal for new funding for these initiatives,” Weingarten said in a prepared statement.
“What’s more, the commission appears to punt on the question of arming teachers, rather than taking a strong stance against it, even though parents, students and teachers agree: Putting more guns in schools only risks making schools less safe. But (Education Secretary)Betsy DeVos continually advocates for this lunacy. The report doesn’t recommend age restrictions on firearms and appears more concerned with the National Rifle Association and the school security industry than with the needs of the people in classrooms.”
Combined with one of the suggestions from a Florida commission created to look at the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that also suggested arming teachers, the AFT may not be having a good week.
The KOAA story noted that the FASTER program (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) has given teacher and administrators confidence to protect their students. The FASTER project started in Ohio a few years ago and is annually discussed at the Gun Rights Policy Conference sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Up in South Dakota and over in Iowa, offering the hunter education courses to middle school students in selected schools brings firearm safety into the regular curriculum, according to KSFY News. No real guns are brought into the schools, but real gun safety is taught.
But one parent who apparently doesn’t care for firearms and doesn’t understand what the program is about, recited the mantra: “I don’t think it’s a good idea at all because right now, I mean there are school shootings all over the place…I wouldn’t want my son to be involved in it.”
But Joel Foster, school superintendent for the Clarksville and North Butler School District in Iowa told a reporter, “We’ve done everything that we can, as far as facilities, as far as locking doors, push button systems, cameras all over the place and we just wanted to do everything that we can. We felt that this was the next step, to educate our kids.”
Where the teachers’ group head advocates for “the advancement of commonsense gun safety reforms to help curb the gun violence epidemic in our country,” schools in the heartland are trying a different tack. Time will tell which approach makes more sense.