90% of Florida school districts reject plan to arm teachers

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Most schools in Florida want to keep guns out of schools, not add more through arming teachers.

As a new school year starts in Florida, the overwhelming majority of school districts reject the idea of sending armed teachers into the classroom, according to a Monday report from the Wall Street Journal.

Of the state's 67 school districts contacted by the Journal, only seven have approved or are considering the notion of arming teachers. The remaining 60 either outright rejected the notion (57) or refused to answer (3).

The state's largest 25 school districts, including Miami-Dade, Broward, and Orange, all turned their backs on the idea of flooding schools with firearms.

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"Teachers have a lot on their plates," Tamara Shamburger, chairwoman of Tampa's Hillsborough County school board, told the Journal. "Their focus has to be on educating their kids and not fighting off bad guys."

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed a new law allowing school districts to arm teachers in the wake of mass shootings in the state, including the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that sparked the March For Our Lives movement.

In the aftermath of that tragedy, Trump came out in support of arming teachers, leading one teacher from Stoneman Douglas who voted for Trump to rebuke the idea.

"When I had those hundreds of terrified children that were running at me, my question to that is, am I supposed to get extra training now to serve and protect on top of educate these children?" Ashley Kurth asked at a February 2018 town hall. "Am I supposed to have a kevlar vest? Am I supposed to strap it to my leg or put it in my desk?"

The proposal passed the Florida legislature and was signed into law despite fierce opposition by teacher's unions.

"Putting more guns in schools is not what is going to make them safe," Becky Pringle, vice president of the NEA, America's largest teacher's union, said in February.

"I don't believe that my colleagues want to have target practice as a part of their curriculum," Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, said in February.

According to Giffords, a gun safety advocacy organization, there is overwhelming opposition to arming teachers. Roughly 70% of teenagers and parents think it is a bad idea, and that number jumps to 80% of teachers who oppose the notion.

The group notes that "a robust body of public health research strongly suggests armed teachers would not effectively deter violence. On the contrary, they would likely increase, rather than decrease, students' exposure to gun violence in schools."

"Educators know that guns have no place in the classroom," Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) said in reaction to the news. "Despite Florida law to arm teachers, many schools have agreed that their priority should be on educating students, not having to potentially fight off shooters."

Most Florida school districts reject Trump's support of arming teachers, opting to let teachers focus on teaching, not target practice.

Published with permission of The American Independent.