Educations

Texas teachers refuse to carry weapons in class

A survey of nearly 4,000 K-12 teachers in Texas found that most do not want to be armed while teaching classes or intercept an armed man at their school, according to the state teachers’ union, which released survey results. the poll on Wednesday.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) of Texas, which has affiliates in the El Paso and Canutillo school districts, sent the questionnaire online to its 65,000 members, which include public school teachers, support staff and education employees. superior, a week after an 18-year-old gunman killed 21 people – including 19 children – at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Texas Republicans said arming teachers might be the solution.

A total of 5,100 members responded to the union’s survey, including 3,673 high school teachers. Of those K-12 teachers, 76 percent answered “no” when asked “Do you want to be armed?” About 90 percent of all responding school employees said they are worried a shooting could happen at their school.

AFT members in Texas include public school teachers and employees, as well as those who work in colleges and universities.

Zeph Capo, president of AFT Texas, said at a news conference Wednesday that the Texas Legislature has made it easier for people to buy guns instead of focusing on protecting children’s lives.

“We depend on the United States Congress to take action because the Texas Legislature has shown us that they do other things than fix this problem, they just want to put a Band-Aid on our wound,” he said.

Capo called on Texans to vote in November for people who will truly change gun policy and protect Texas students and teachers.

Nearly a decade ago, Texas lawmakers created the school marshal program, a way for educators to carry guns inside schools. Since then, however, only 84 school districts have opted for such a program.

In those districts, only 361 people have been authorized as school marshals in the entire state where there are 9,000 campuses and more than 369,000 public school teachers.

The survey of Texas school employees found overwhelming support for tougher gun laws.

Of all those who responded to the poll, 98 percent support alert laws, which could allow local officers to take someone’s gun if a judge rules they pose a danger; 96 percent want the minimum age to buy legal guns raised from 18 to 21, and 83 percent support a ban on assault weapons.

Texas Democrats had already called for a special legislative session to pass comprehensive gun reform.

The Uvalde shooting could also have consequences for the Texas teacher workforce, which is already in some trouble. Just under half of those surveyed said the shooting could affect their decision to leave the profession.

In the past two years, the pandemic and attacks on teachers have exacerbated the state’s teacher shortage. This has become a major problem for school districts, so much so that Governor Greg Abbott created a team to find ways to fix the problem.

Across the state, Texas teachers are ending one of the most difficult years they have ever experienced. Since the pandemic hit two years ago, teachers have had to navigate a series of disruptions caused by the coronavirus: first, school closures and the shift to online education, then the return to classrooms on last fall that was affected twice by major outbreaks.

At the same time, they have had to deal with parental anger over mask mandates and learn how to design history lessons about racism to keep students from feeling “uncomfortable” because of a state law that was approved last year.

Katrina Rasmussen, a Dallas high school teacher and union member who attended the AFT press conference, said schools are supposed to be one of the safest places for communities, but the only response she has heard is more weapons.

“I’ve seen student and teacher deaths go up, and all I’ve heard from lawmakers is empty rhetoric,” he said. “I ask my legislators, ‘Is turning my learning community into a militarized zone really the best solution you can give us?’

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