Educating the educators

A rather educational article appeared yesterday on and was printed in the Boone County Recorder.  Right off the bat, I learned this:

“We’re in the process of having a conversation with our staff and teachers to get their thoughts about the program,” said schools Superintendent Randy Poe. “School safety is a complex issue. Our safety committee looks at variety of options available and the School POST program has been a part of that process. I’ve also asked staff to research the program and have a conversation with their teachers and let the board know their thoughts.”

Hopefully some of the people that Mr. Poe tasked with this research came to the presentation on the 19th.  If not, then their only primary source of information about the program is this website, which is, of course, tremendous (since I am the main one working on it ;-)), but lacks the clarity, nuance and depth that we can get into in a face to face presentation and the related discussion.  If there are any members of Mr. Poe’s research team out there that want to hear about POST straight from the horse’s mouth, let us know and we will gladly brief you and/or answer any questions you have.

Reading further in the article I learned this:

A school board workshop will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at Ralph Rush Staff Development Center, 103 Center St., Florence, to discuss school safety issues. School POST (Protecting Our Students and Teachers), a program that would screen, train and arm volunteer teachers and staff members, will be one of the topics.

I knew about the meeting, but this is the first I am hearing that POST will be a “topic” officially.  As I understood the agenda, it was to explore options and to hear public comment.  If we’ve already decided that POST is one of the options, that’s great – let us know when to be there and how long we have to present.

“My thoughts are that as far as school safety is concerned, this is one area of consideration,” Poe said. “There are concerns that I have about the program as it is. There are parts that I do like and parts I don’t like, but I’ll reserve going into that until the March 6 meeting.”

I would only ask Mr. Poe to reserve judgement on either what he likes or doesn’t like until he understands what POST is in its entirety.  Again I will extend the offer for a full briefing.  Back to the article:

Poe said it is the school board’s decision to sue or not use POST. A formal presentation has not been made to the board;

Well, I hope that first part is just a typo, or at most a Freudian slip ;-).  The second part is absolutely true – but I hope to make it false soon!

Ryle High School Principal Matthew Turner said he is skeptical of the program.  “I don’t know everything about the program, but I do have some concerns,” he said.

Where is that academic thirst for knowledge that we hear so much about?  Surely what Mr. Turner meant to say was ‘I don’t know everything about the program, but I want to find out more before I make a decision’??

“The training and experience of using a firearm is my main concern. Our school resource officers have a tremendous amount of experience and training. They know when to make the decision to use their gun and how to use it. That’s critical. That’s a police officer’s job. I don’t know if any of our staff would have that type of training and experience. Teachers don’t go into teaching thinking they’re going to have to defend themselves and others.”

Good news: that is actually covered as a large part of the training. Since we aren’t training POST volunteers to be law enforcement officers, we can skip all the stuff about arresting someone, traffic stops, and searches and just focus on gun handling in defensive scenarios.  As a result, the number of hours that POST volunteers will spend training on how to handle a gun will be equivalent to the hours in law enforcement training on that same topic.  I’m sure teachers don’t go into teaching thinking they’re going to have to defend themselves.  The good news is that Volunteering for POST doesn’t change that one way or the other.  As you read this every teacher across America is faced with the very real possibility that they may have to defend themselves. That is before the first POST volunteer has been screened and certified.  The only thing that POST does is give all those teachers the choice to get training and a tool that will significantly increase the chances that that defense will be successful. I think that teachers are smart enough and responsible enough to be given that choice.

Brian King, a diesel technology instructor for the Boone County Area Technology Center, said he hasn’t made up his mind about POST, and he’s upset that such an option even has to exist.

“First off, let me say that I think it’s sad that we even have to consider this,” King said. “Times have really changed in the schools. I haven’t made up my mind yet one way or the other about this idea but I will say this, there isn’t a teacher or faculty member in our school that wouldn’t hesitate to put themselves between a shooter and our students. I would, however, like to make it a fair fight.”

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. King’s view.  I can’t believe we are having to have this discussion either.  But we do.  As adults we have to face reality and then decide to do something about it.  Do I wish we lived in a world where teachers didn’t have to have the choice to be trained and armed?  Of course.  I think we can all agree on that.  The difference is that I know the only way we are ever going to get out of crisis mode is to stop the bleeding, literally and figuratively.  We have to give ourselves the space and time without an attack in order to look at the root causes of school violence and do something about it.  When your house is on fire, the find a hydrant and a hose.

Roberto Henriquez, a parent of two elementary school students, said he thinks arming teachers is a “very bad idea.”

“Teachers need to focus on education and teaching,” the Florence resident and former Ryle High School teacher said. “I know teachers have so much to keep track of, keeping track of a deadly weapon in the classroom is a set up for tragedy. I would seriously consider removing my children from public school if teachers start carrying weapons.”

Henriquez said he thinks schools should have additional armed resource officers.

I agree with Mr. Henriquez’s concluding point: If we have the extra $1.8M lying around to put an SRO in every school, let’s do it.  But then let’s realize that we can still do more.  As for the idea that teachers are too busy to keep track of a weapon in a classroom, the absence of any issues in the 7 states that have armed teacher programs stand as a strong testament to the counter.

I hope the meeting on March 6th is a educational for all as this article was for me.  I hope all attendees take the time to read and reflect on this quote from Scorates in Plato’s Gorgias:

What sort of man am I?  I am one of those who would be glad to be refuted when saying a thing that is untrue, glad to also refute another if he said something inexact, not less glad to be refuted than to do it, since I deem it the greater blessing, in proportion as it is the greater good, to be released from that which is the greatest evil than to release another from it.



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