Following the recent mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two adults, Republican politicians have rejected calls for gun control and put forward proposals such as arming teachers and beefing up police presence and security at schools.
However, many American teachers have criticized these suggestions, arguing that they would be ineffective solutions and mere distractions from the real problem – the interests of gun lobbyists and manufacturers, who heavily fund and support Republican politicians.
Jim Gard, a high school math teacher in Broward county, Florida, who survived the 2018 Parkland school shooting, stated, “If they cared at all, something would have been done. It would have been done after Columbine. Until they start caring more about people’s lives than worrying about their donations and their own careers and their own power, this will never end.”
Furthermore, Elizabeth Boyd Graham, a high school teacher in Houston, Texas, remarked, “If more guns made it safer, we’d be the safest country in the world, and we’re not. The states with the weakest gun laws have the highest amount of gun violence."
Notably, a 2019 survey conducted by a researcher at California State University, Northridge found that 95.3% of the more than 2,900 teachers around the US surveyed felt that teachers should not be carrying guns in the classroom. Jourden Armstrong, a teacher for 15 years in Michigan, explained, “I went to college to become a teacher, not a law enforcement officer,” citing that more sensible gun regulation was necessary.
The National Education Association has also criticized proposals of arming teachers, with Becky Pringle, its president, highlighting, “Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence. We need fewer guns in schools, not more. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards.”
Additionally, several teachers fear retaliation for speaking out against these proposals and prefer to remain anonymous.
According to a teacher in Houston, public education in Texas is already experiencing a severe lack of resources due to underfunding. This issue has been highlighted in a 2021 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which revealed that Texas ranks 40th out of 50 states and Washington DC in public education funding, spending only $11,987 per student annually. This amount is more than $3,000 less than the national average of $15,114.
The Houston teacher further elaborated on the problematic situation in their school, stating that there is a lack of essential personnel such as a nurse or a librarian. Additionally, teachers are not reimbursed for purchasing school supplies out of their own pockets, which further exacerbates the issue of underfunding in the education system. To put matters into perspective, even something as simple as a pizza party for students couldn’t be funded by the district.
The teacher mentions that the situation is tragic and that they don’t have textbooks for their subject area. On the other hand, the district seems to find funding for other less necessary items such as guns, which further highlights the skewed priorities in the system. As a result, the teacher expresses a desire to obtain a color printer for the classroom instead of being given a gun following the tragic Santa Fe shooting.
In summary, the lack of resources and underfunding in the education system in Texas is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. Teachers are finding it increasingly difficult to provide quality education to students, and it’s essential that necessary steps are taken to rectify this problem.