Archive for Monday, February 26, 2018

Lawrence educators blast proposals for arming teachers as ludicrous and a distraction from the real issues

Lawrence High students pass through the hallway on the east side of the school during the seventh hour changing period on Friday, April 7, 2017.

Lawrence High students pass through the hallway on the east side of the school during the seventh hour changing period on Friday, April 7, 2017.

February 26, 2018


— Teachers and other officials in the Lawrence school district appear universally opposed to proposals that would allow some K-12 teachers to carry guns in school.

President Donald Trump’s proposals followed the mass shooting Feb. 14 at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.

Local educators’ reactions came just a few days after Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer, speaking at an education forum in Washington, indicated that he supports Trump’s proposed plans to allow some teachers to carry guns in school and to offer bonuses to those who undergo weapons training.

“This may be a good solution,” Colyer was quoted as saying in an online story published by The 74, which describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service that focuses on education. “That’s where the students are, that’s where the security issue is immediately. That, though, is really a very local decision on how we see it — because different schools, they have a different setup and different community standards. We’re exploring this right now.”

Colyer’s spokeswoman, Kara Fullmer, did not dispute the accuracy of that quote, but in an email she offered a follow-up statement from the governor:

“In Kansas we will be thoughtful and pragmatic as we work to understand how best to prevent these issue in the future,” the statement read. “We know that most decisions are best made at a local level. I look forward to listening to our local communities and gathering their ideas on how best to keep our children safe.”

Allowing local districts to make their own choices about arming teachers, however, would require legislation because current state law prohibits anyone apart from law enforcement officers — faculty, staff, administrators or students — from possessing a firearm on K-12 school property or at school-sponsored events.

The Journal-World reached out to several educators in the Lawrence school district. None of them expressed any support for the idea of allowing some teachers to carry firearms.

“Personally, I want nothing to do with guns as a teacher,” Lindsay Buck, chair of the special education department at Lawrence High School, said in an email. “I did not go into education to become a body-guard, police officer, or solider - I went into education to teach children. I haven't heard a single colleague or teacher with whom I'm connected to voice support for arming teachers; quite the opposite is true, with many posting opposition on social media platforms.”

Laura Sutliffe, a speech and language pathologist at Cordley and New York elementary schools, shared that sentiment.

“No, I do not believe arming teachers is the answer,” she said in a Facebook message. “Improving security at all schools through building cameras, locked entry and secure entry ways, security guards, and more metal detectors; banning all assault rifles; increasing stringent requirements and background checks for all gun purchases, confiscating guns from people/homes with any history or reported history of hospitalization are some measures that make sense to me.”

Lawrence school board president Shannon Kimball noted that the district has taken a number of steps to improve security in its buildings, including establishing a single, secure entrance to each building.

In a phone interview, she described proposals to arm teachers as “ludicrous.”

“It’s naive and it’s simplistic, and it does not address the real needs to actually decrease the likelihood that something like that will happen in a school building,” she said.

Last week, just eight days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the Kansas House was scheduled to debate a bill that would direct the Kansas State Board of Education to adopt curriculum guidelines for teaching gun safety in public schools that would be based on guidelines from the National Rifle Association’s “Eddie Eagle” program for elementary students, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ hunter safety program for high school students.

That bill was pulled from the debate calendar, however. House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, said GOP leaders want gun safety education to be part of a broader initiative to improve school safety.

Kimball said she strongly opposed that measure because Lawrence schools already teach about gun safety as part of their health and wellness curriculum, and she said she doesn’t think the Legislature should be involved in deciding which curriculum they use.

“I think if they want to talk about the real issues, they need to talk about more than just mental health, more than just building security. They have got to have a real conversation about gun laws as well,” Kimball said.

David Reber, who has been a lead negotiator for the Lawrence Education Association and who teaches biology at Free State High School, where more than 400 students staged a walkout last week to protest gun violence in schools, said in an email that he has no interest in arming himself at school, and he called the conversation about arming teachers a distraction from what he sees as the real issue.

“I think they know full well that most teachers reject the idea, most schools reject the idea, and there is little chance of it taking hold anywhere,” he wrote. “So, they get to offer ‘solutions' without much chance of actually having to DO anything. Certainly not having to FUND anything. And, when their ‘solution’ doesn’t materialize, they will blame teachers for stonewalling it.”

Jeff Plinsky, who teaches in the English department at Lawrence High School, said he thinks there are better ways to improve safety and security in school buildings.

“Kansas would be better served by increasing the number of teachers, social workers, counselors, and school psychologists in each district, reducing class sizes so that teachers have time to build better relationships with students, refocusing education on soft skills and relationship building, instead of getting kids ready for standardized tests, and insuring that both schools and law enforcement have the financial and staffing resources they need to intervene with troubled students,” he said in an email.

“This solution, while expensive and inefficient in terms of financial concerns, is far better for kids, and allows schools to address the root causes of the problem — anger, loneliness, mental health concerns, emotional instability, etc.,” Plinsky added.

Jason Mendence, a special education teacher at Free State High School, said he thinks arming teachers would make schools more dangerous.

"More guns in school make school more dangerous. A shooter will still get in and do damage. All these events are planned out carefully," he said in an email. "How about locks for all the doors and alarms on every door in every school. And having a severe penalty for opening one of those doors. As for having teachers (have) guns in school ... the majority of teachers in this whole country say no."


Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

They're betting the lives of their students that LPD would arrive in time and do a better job than the Broward cowards. Risk-free virtue-signaling until the balloon goes up.

Deborah Snyder 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I really liked (and agreed with) a KC Star staff editorial on how to end America's gun violence, with five specific suggestions, using only two "guiding principles;" that just because any one law won't work, we don't give up making any. And that "...enacting a series of reforms, linked to a common objective..." is our best chance at reducing mass casualties by gun. It's at []

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

That article is the same old hash that the gun-grabbers have been putting before the public for years now. Old wine in new bottles.

Calvin Anders 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The reason I don't want to arm teachers is I don't want our schools turned into armed camps with electronic locks on doors and cameras everywhere and zero expectation of privacy for students and armed teachers patrolling the halls. To me the response to gun violence in schools is quickly turning them into institutions virtually indistinguishable from prisons. If we arm teachers, eventually we will see cases of intimidation of students and/or violence against students by armed teachers. Schools do not work as prisons. The solution here is not to inject more violence into schools. It's a stupid idea. It's just stupid.

Jim Slade 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Sheriff's deputies too scared to enter the building to stop a shooter, but people expect teachers to turn into John Wick once things start popping off.

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Sheriff's deputies should do their jobs and protect the public. The Broward cowards are one heck of a negative example.

Steve Jacob 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Nobody ever brings it up, but I am sure some teachers would love to bring in their gun.

Ken Schmidt 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I'm sure there are. Just as there are folks who would love to, and have, brought their legally owned and licensed open-carry arms into the airport. Guess what, that doesn't make that a wise choice. Stop redirecting the discussion. I don't think very many folks support completely banning your right to own a weapon. As a veteran, proudly serving in the 4th Infantry Division during my tours of duty, the issue is the general public owning a weapon they can't handle and which can be modified to shoot more rounds down range than my M-16 could in combat with the lever set to "A." You can't own a hand grenade because stupid people will do stupid things to a lot of people all at once. Same logic fits here. I don't want my children in a classroom with a lightly trained vigilante with a penchant for carrying arms around little kids and the itch to use it. If you want guns in the schools so bad, use your tax return and support hiring highly trained officers to man the doors while school is in session. Otherwise, I have the choice to decide whether I want my PERSONAL children in a classroom with a teacher wielding a weapon I have no IDEA whether they know how to use. No thanks. The issue is whether the general public should own a FULLY AUTOMATIC weapon or not. It should be illegal. Semi or less is fine and clips limited to no more than 10 rounds. At least at that point, it gives folks a fighting chance. Just saying.

David Reber 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Fully automatic weapons have been illegal since 1986.

Ken Schmidt 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Indeed David. I should have finished my thought. We both know manufacturers are able to mass produce weapons which require only a small mod to the firing mechanism or pin. There is a reason the 16/M4 only shoots 3 round bursts. Its for accuracy and to keep folks from wasting rounds. There is no reason the public should be able to buy and own a weapon which is easily converted to fire more rounds than a member of the military who is trained to use this weapon and yet still limited to 3 rounds per trigger release.

Michael Kort 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Well,.......newspapers are aimed at a 4th grade audience and politicians know that . DUH .

If in the 4th grade, you lack the ability to predict the future outcome of a choice for society, but you are the politicians chosen audience and all that they have to do is to fool enough of you, by any means !

Teachers usually have a better that 4th grade comprehension level which is why they know that this won't work and that Trump and Collier are attempting to pass the buck and kick the can down the yellow brick road on all fronts of the gun issues in this country .

We all know where the buck doesn't stop both Swampington D.C. and in Topeka .

They want the buck to stop with a teacher..... who might not want to play instant judge and jury over another's life or be charged or sued over the accidental death of a bystander shot by themselves during a shoot out with a shooter.......a teacher who will be charged with accidental murder or sued over a shot that went south

Who supports arming teachers ?............ANSWER, ....NO ONE WHO WILL BE CHARGED OR SUED OVER A TEACHER INVOLVED ACCIDENTAL DEATH !..........because this all has to be somebody else's problem........right ? the teachers ? must be the National Arm The Babysitter Week ?

The family of a shooter could sue a teacher.....and who pays the teachers legal bills ?....not the DONALD,....( who is about Other People's Money and Grief ) ....or anyone advocating this idea !

Steve King 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I think before you can call someone a coward you need to stand in their shoes. You weren't there. You don't have all the information to justify calling someone a coward. That's really shallow. I think people should be careful of flouting their moralities until they've been tested, really tested.

Frank A Janzen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I think someone should ask students how they would feel about their teachers having guns.

Sharilyn Wells 1 month, 3 weeks ago

WHY is it other advanced nations do not have mass school shootings?

Brock Masters 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Name one that hasn’t had a mass shooting? Now we have more than some other countries and that is because they can legally ban and confiscated guns. Even if we did a total ban we’d still have mass shootings. No way to get all the guns of and tokeep guns out of our country.

Think you could then repeal the 2nd amendment and let’s see. In the meantime abide by the law of the land and do not try to violate my Constitutional rights.

Jim Slade 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Rephrase: Why do other most nations only see mass shootings every few decades whereas we have them every couple of months?

Granted you can never expect to be 100% effective at stopping evil. But if we can go from having a mass shooting every 2-3 months to every 2-3 decades, most of us would be quite happy about that.

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"...What Broward County authorities did know is that the best "school resource officers," the euphemism for in-school sheriff's deputies, were those most sensitive to the objectives of the PROMISE program. It is hardly shocking that in 2014, the now notorious Scot Peterson was named School Resource Officer of the Year by the Broward County Crime Commission for handling issues "with tact and judgment." The motto of that crime commission? "Evil triumphs when good people stand idly by." Yikes! Peterson, the commission noted, was also "active in mentoring and counseling students." It appears that Nikolas Cruz got counseled a lot. Better to educate him, after all, than incarcerate him. Although there are many details still to be known, the Miami Herald reported on Friday that, in November 2017, a tipster called the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) to say Cruz "'could be a school shooter in the making,' but deputies did not write up a report on that warning." The Herald added that this tip came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons. Two years prior, "A deputy investigated a report that Cruz 'planned to shoot up the school' – intelligence that was forwarded to the school's resource officer, with no apparent result." That school resource officer just happened to be Scot Peterson. He did not err by letting this misunderstood Hispanic lad go unpunished in any meaningful way. Peterson showed his award-winning "tact and judgment." He had to understand that to keep the PROMISE momentum going, the school would have to see fewer and fewer arrests each year. This meant excusing worse and worse offenses, especially for students who counted as minorities. As for the qualities real cops are expected to show – courage under fire comes to mind – those were obviously not Peterson's strong suit. "The school resource officer was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn. And he was just pointing it at the building," said student Brandon Huff of Peterson. "And you could – shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over."..."

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This narrow minded Liberal mentality is why government inculcation centers are not the place for your children.

This Liberal mindset is why American schools investment in children cannot afford them the ability to break the worldwide top 20 in math, science and reading proficiencies.

These are spooky places these complex critical thinking people have created.

Jillian Andrews 1 month, 3 weeks ago

We all know critical thinking isn't your forte, Bob "Pathetic Old Troll" Summers.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I think whether to arm a teacher is up to each teacher. I do not want armed teachers that have no training, or desire to be armed. I think each school should have an SRO, that is dedicated to do their job, not hide outside. If enough SRO's cannot be found among active duty officers, retired officers that wish to work a few days a week may be available, as well as trained military vets. Each school should be protected. Our children should be our first priority.

Dale Miller 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You show me a teacher who eagerly and completely accepts the responsibility, knowledge and training to put their life on the line to engage an active shooter and I'll show you a unanimous and complete list of victims who are actually seeing their life flash in front of their eyes being very thankful.

Three of those teachers were in that Florida building

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

A DEMONSTRATION of how out of touch conservatives are throughout the nation .... out of touch with voters and reality.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

During the Reagan/Bush period the conservatives began their over throw of the GOP which included merging quietly the state agendas with the national agenda.... a covert action which remains in place today. All part of the American Legislative Exchange Council Agenda sponsored by Koch dollars.

Old school GOP need to stop voting GOP.

Koch Dollars own the GOP name and call the shots.

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yes by all means, do not arm the Liberals. It would be ludicrous to do so.

A teacher has been arrested after reports of shots fired at a Dalton, Georgia high school. No children were injured or were in any danger, police said. Police responded to reports of shots fired shortly after noon on Wednesday. The Dalton Police Department said the suspect was barricaded inside a classroom. The teacher was arrested around 12:30 local time, the police said on twitter.

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