This past Saturday, July 20th, was the second annual "National Train A Teacher Day," an event that instructs teachers how to handle firearms. The event, sponsored by The United States Concealed Carry Association and TASER, was created after the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 14 students and three staff members were killed.
Paul Reville, the former Massachusetts education secretary, joined Boston Public Radio to talk about why the event was started and the criticism surrounding it.
"This is a new phenomenon that's come out after Parkland where a theory of action about the way we reduce violence in schools is to arm the teachers. So the federal government has created legislation and money that gets dispensed through the states and can be used to arm teachers," he said. "Fifteen states have created weapons-carrying laws in schools, so that teachers can have weapons. The 'Train A Teacher Day,' which actually opened up in 42 states, provided training to teachers so they'd know how to use their weapons in the event they needed to use them in schools."
Those who oppose weapons training and arming of teachers think it will just contribute to the problem, Reville said.
"There's widespread resistance to this idea both within the teaching profession and in policy circles that this is not the way to reduce violence in schools. Just think of all the kinds of things that can go wrong, all the kinds of accidents and mistakes that happen when a weapon is present," he said. "We know about this in households, and now we're going to move the same phenomenon into classrooms."
Reville described alternative approaches to reducing gun violence in schools that don't involve defensive firearms.
"Concentrating on issues like mental health, the culture and character of the school, the involvement of parents dealing with students who've got behavioral problems, are all sorts of ways to address this without arming teachers and making a bad situation worse," he added.
Reville is a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where he also runs the Education Redesign Lab. His latest book, co-authored with Elaine Weiss, is Broader, Bolder, Better: How Schools and Communities Help Students Overcome the Disadvantages of Poverty.