In Orange County, our Republican-dominated state assembly representatives continue to demonstrate complete ineptness when it comes to getting fair funding for Orange County’s school districts. Countless trips to Sacramento by parents groups and students, in addition to meetings with the legislators at their local officers, pleading for funding that elevates OC’s schools to “state average” levels is usually met with complaints about teacher’s unions and assurances that these legislators will never vote for any tax increase no matter how badly the school districts that they represent need it.
Leave it to State Reps Don Wagner and Diane Harkey to place their stamp on education by lending their names in co-sponsorship to a bill that would allow school districts to arm their teachers, administrators and even their custodians with a loaded firearm at school.
From today’s LA Times:
The lawmakers, led by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino, made the proposal in response to last month’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults.
“The idea is to create essentially an invisible line of defense around our kids,” Donnelly said at a Capitol news conference.
Donnelly said his AB 202 is an alternative to a dozen proposals by colleagues to impose tighter gun controls, some of which he said are a violation of the constitutional right to bear arms.
He invoked the name of Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto, who was killed trying to defend her students.
“We have a moral obligation that the next Vicki Soto who is faced with inexplicable evil, that she not be left defenseless. If she was [armed] she would have the ability to stop or at least slow down the killer.”
The proposal is modeled after the federal air marshal program, which assigns armed, plainclothes air marshals to many commercial airliner flights to guard against terrorism.
Sen. Leland Yee (D-Sacramento), who has worked as a school psychologist, predicted that the bill would face insurmountable opposition in the Legislature. “With all due respect to my Republican colleagues, that is just absolutely ludicrous,” Yee said of the proposal. “I don’t know of any educator who would be interested in packing a gun into a school.”
At the swearing in ceremony for Irvine’s newly elected city council members, I did ask Assemblyman Wagner to help Irvine by voting to lower the threshold for cities to pass parcel taxes. I already know his response. And despite his background in education, Mr. Wagner continues to place the interests of his party over those of the families of schoolchildren he represents.
For those with children in elementary school, the prospect of little Susie’s first grade teacher opening fire in front of her in an invitation to a lifetime or therapy. What about the petite high school English teacher who has a weapon taken away by a burly senior football player because he’s angry at another student? We’ll remind Mr. Wagner to get back to work finding new ways to help our schools get the funding they need, pay teachers what they are worth, and to start placing the interests of all of his constituents ahead of those of the Republican Party.
Update: a reader alerted me to this blog post from a teacher in Minnesota. Send her some traffic please. From her post on arming teachers, read this:
You want to arm me? Good. Then arm me with a school psychologist at my school who has time to do more than test and sit in meetings about testing.
Arm me with enough counselors so we can build skills to prevent violence, have meaningful discussions with students about their future and not merely frantically adjust student schedules like a Jenga game.
Arm me with social workers who can thoughtfully attend to a student’s and her family’s needs so I. Can. Teach.
Arm me with enough school nurses so that they are accessible to every child and can work as a team with me rather than operate their offices as de facto urgent care centers.
Arm me with more days on the calendar for teaching and learning and fewer days for standardized testing.
Arm me with class sizes that allow my colleagues and me to know both our students and their families well.
Arm my colleagues and me with the time it takes to improve together and the time it takes to give great feedback to students about their work and progress.
Until you arm me to the hilt with what it will take to meet the needs of an increasingly vulnerable student population, I respectfully request you keep your opinions on schools and our safety to yourself NRA. Knock it off.