Letter to the Editor: No Pistol-packing Pedagogists

Let’s put a preposterous idea to rest before it becomes a serious consideration in the Congress of the United States.

If teachers wanted to carry guns they could have become cops or security guards or joined the military. While I respect the skill and training required of the aforementioned and the important work they do, their tasks and those of teachers are not interchangeable. Instead of outlawing the type of guns that account for the multitude of school shootings and accompanying deaths in the United States, an idea continues to surface that our teachers and other school staff could be called upon to keep a pistol locked in their classrooms “just in case.”

Just in case what? That we need to leave room in our lesson plan books for a shootout? Or that serious action isn’t taken before someone else with an assault rifle enters a school again? Because today’s teacher is given more and more responsibility and less and less support, we are experiencing a significant shortage in hiring the brightest and best educators to meet the intellectual and life-long learning needs of our youth. Would any hint at the suggestion of carrying a gun discourage more otherwise outstanding potential educators from entering this worthy profession? Many wonderfully dedicated current educators would quit rather than take up arms. Would  a new column added to the salary schedule be negotiated to give special stipends to those who “volunteer” to either carry a gun or carry a key to unlock a desk drawer if suddenly threatened with a semi automatic assault rifle?

Working in human resources before retirement, I hired school personnel and I contemplate being in that position today to ask an interview question, “If hired, would you be willing to shoot at an intruder if the situation arose?” And if they answered in the positive, what would that tell us about their judgment and their philosophy of education?

We are all in favor of school security and keeping our children safe and I am confident that people everywhere want our teachers and school staff to do everything within their power to equip our youth for their future success, but it is not the role of our educational institutions to add marksmanship courses to their curriculum. If we need to find resources to hire security guards or more mental health professionals in our schools, then let’s prioritize those needs. It’s not the purpose of this letter to explore all the ideas we may have to keep our schools safe but rather to emphasize here that teacher training was never intended to include methods of using firearms. Please contact your state legislators now to tell them that it is not appropriate, sensible, or an answer to eliminating school violence for our educators to bear arms.


Judith Miller

Baileys Harbor, Wis.

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