Demanding Responsible School Safety Solutions, Not More Guns

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Tom Kuroski, an anatomy and physiology teacher at the town's high school and president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Newtown Federation of Teachers, said his members overwhelmingly oppose arming educators. As co-chair of AFT's national gun violence prevention committee, he said that teachers across the country share the strong belief that militarizing schools is not the answer.
 
“Since the massacre at Sandy Hook nearly six years ago, I’ve met scores of teachers and classroom support staff who are school shooting survivors,” said Kuroski. "Some might expect the concept of guns in classrooms to appeal to this particular group of educators — a ‘fraternity’ that none of us ever wanted to belong to. Instead, we are among the most vehemently opposed to the kind of irresponsible approach that Sen. McLachlan, Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos are proposing. We know firsthand that more guns are not the answer.”
 
“A common thread that binds us as educators is the commitment to safe, secure schools for our students to learn," he added. "In Newtown, we understand that elected leaders must make better choices for preventing future tragedies than putting lethal weapons in the hands of educators."
 
Click here for a recent "U & I in Union" story featuring Kuroski and one of his local union members.
 
Erin Daly, a third-grade teacher at Pembroke School in Danbury and president of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA)-affiliated local union representing her district's colleagues, agreed with Kuroski.
 
"Educating our students in a safe environment is paramount to what we do," said Daly. "No one is more concerned about classroom safety than the teachers who work in our schools every day. No one who’s serious about school safety thinks arming teachers is the answer." 
 
“Many elected leaders who think arming teachers is the answer are the same leaders who have voted to decimate our school budgets time and time again," she added. "Adding guns to our school supply list doesn't make any sense. If our elected leaders want safe classrooms, they need to stop underfunding our schools and instead give us more psychologists and social workers, more supports, more resources—not more weapons."
 
Teachers in Newtown and Danbury are not alone in their opposition to adding firearms training to their growing list of responsibilities. A survey conducted by CEA in 2013 found that the vast majority of Connecticut educators — 85% — were not in favor of carrying guns in the classroom.
 
Click here for recent press reporting on President Trump's proposals citing CEA's polling results.
 
“I am outraged by Senator McLachlan's suggestion that we arm teachers—a reckless proposal that our members overwhelmingly oppose,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. "Teachers will tell you that while they are educators, they are often called on to be social workers, nurses, and caregivers to their students—roles that they take on willingly. They are not, however, willing to be sharpshooters, and we should never be willing to put them in that position," added Leake, who previously taught [BIO]. 
 
A recent poll by AFT and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence found that a majority of voters in 11 battleground congressional districts also oppose weaponizing the nation’s schools. Among those surveyed, 63% to 75% were more likely to support candidates in the November mid-term elections who advocate federal funding for school mental health services over arming teachers.
 
Click here for a summary of the poll's key findings. 
 
"To 'reclaim the promise' of public education in this state, we need safe, secure welcoming environments for children to learn and teachers to educate," said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. "For our union's members to achieve that reality, they need legislators who will have their backs, not hand them sidearms. The senator is just offering more of the same failed approach being pushed by President Trump and his federal education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Connecticut students and those who educate and support their classroom learning want and deserve better," added Hochadel, who previously taught physics and science in the state's technical high schools.