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Education Officials React To Proposal To Arm Teachers

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers as a school safety precaution doesn’t sit well with Illinois teachers.

Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery says he has yet to talk to an educator who thinks it’s a good idea. He says this could affect the teacher shortage.

“People are not going to want to go into the profession if the job description includes being a paramilitary officer who may well have to shoot children,” he says.

Montgomery says arming teachers would also affect the learning environment for students. He says kids can’t effectively learn if they’re afraid.

Bridget Shanahan, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Education Association, echoed Montgomery’s concerns.

“The majority of our teachers feel like that’s sort of a slap in the face,” she says.

According to Shanahan, most teachers would rather just see schools fully funded. She says it’s offensive to offer teachers a bonus for being armed when many pay out of pocket for classroom supplies.

Todd Vandermyde is director of the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois. He says most people have the wrong impression, thinking that the security burden would completely fall on armed teachers.

“I think you have to look at security in layers, and that is the last layer,” he says.

Vandermyde says it would be the teacher’s choice to carry a gun. He says he wonders if things could have turned out differently for the coach who died defending his students during the Parkland, Florida, shooting if he also had a gun.