Many of our school teachers will tell you they were born to be teachers, that it is something within, that it was a calling. They went into teaching not for money but for the love of molding young minds.
One thing teachers today didn’t figure on was arming themselves against unknown, deranged individuals. They didn’t get into this to target practice during their down time.
The national debate about whether teachers should arm themselves — in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. — has reached Alabama. State Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, plans to pre-file legislation giving school boards and superintendents the authority to allow certain employees to carry guns on school grounds.
Are we overreacting a bit here? There are laws already in place to protect our kids. According to the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act, it is against the law for any individual to knowingly possess a firearm within a school zone — and that includes teachers and other school personnel.
We cannot predict the next cowardly act by a sick individual. What we can do is make sure our facilities are secure. And that we have more people trained to spot troubled individuals. More school resource officers would greatly help, especially on the elementary level. Local and state officials should keep this atop their wish list for 2013.
More school drills, overemphasizing to kids that school safety is no joke, would be beneficial.
For those school districts that don’t have a comprehensive safety plan, develop one. For those schools that allow individuals to walk in off the street without supervision, stop doing it.
School administrators, make sure safety training of school personnel is taken seriously. If needed, do a refresher session to start 2013, and make sure school personnel know what to look for in uncharacteristic behavior.
As for Rich, if he wants to make a difference, he should get with his colleagues in the Legislature next month and find more money for school resource officers.
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