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Lawmakers sidestepping responsibility for arming teachers

TALLAHASSEE —The Florida Education Association (FEA) is struck that, when it comes to arming teachers, state lawmakers are willing to pass the buck — or the bullets — on a potentially deadly decision.

Legislators and state administrators micromanage a tremendous amount of what takes place at Florida’s schools — what students learn, how they’re tested, whether schools are left under local district control or turned over to an outside operator, how much money school districts get and how they use most of it. However, the decision on whether to let teachers have guns in classrooms would be under “local control.”

Sen. Manny Diaz and many of his colleagues repeatedly cited local control in their attempts to justify the expansion of the Guardian Program included in SB 7030, the school security bill considered Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Under 7030, it would be up to local districts to decide whether they would like to make local classrooms more dangerous by allowing teachers to be armed as they work with students.

“We think this issue is a real Pandora’s box that has the potential to release all kinds of trouble into our schools — firearm accidents, guns lost or stolen, injuries to unintended targets. Guns and kids don’t mix,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “We would like to see lawmakers stand up and own this decision instead of pushing responsibility for the decision and any consequences down to the districts. Keep guns out of our classrooms. Let teachers teach, and leave protecting our schools to law enforcement professionals.”

FEA members have long opposed allowing teachers to be armed at school. To truly make our students and staff safer, lawmakers should invest money in ensuring every school has a resource officer and a sufficient number of trained mental health professionals such as guidance counselors, school psychologists and social workers.

CONTACT: Joni Branch, (850) 201-3223 or (850) 544-7055

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The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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