In response to the Parkland shooting, many educators quickly spoke up and voiced opinions about gun violence in schools.
On February 14, Nikolas Cruz opened fire on students and faculty atMajory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He killed 14 students and three faculty members. Following the mass shooting, politicians, teachers, students, and the general public began debating gun control, specifically in schools.
President Trump made a statement that suggested guns should be given to highly trained teachers to protect schools against potential threats.
Not so fast, according to Ellen Williams, who is currently a social work student at The Ohio State University and has worked in a school in the Columbus City School system for the past two years. She took to Twitter to describe her experiences in this school and her response to both the Parkland shooting and Trump’s suggestion.
“If you have never stepped foot into a school before, especially a school like mine,” Williams tweeted.“And you are arguing for teachers to be armed with guns- you couldn’t be more far off from what schools & teachers actually need, what the kids actually need.”
Williams created a Twitter thread, that received over 45,500 retweets, where she recalled her experiences in an extremely underfunded school and her interactions with the students who attend that school.
She said she had to call Child Protective Services four separate times in one week. Williams recalled having a 7-year-old child disclose to her that she had witnessed domestic abuse and had another child tell her she had been sexually assaulted.
Teachers have created the hashtag #ArmMeWith to disclose what resources they would rather have for their classrooms and schools than guns. Williams also used this hashtag in her Twitter thread.
“Don’t you dare #ArmMeWith or my school with a weapon, with more violence.” Williams tweeted “Instead, #ArmMeWith vital resources & professionals to best serve our kids. Please, do not continue to fail our children, I am begging you.”
Thousands of tweets have been shared by educators using the #ArmMeWith hashtag. Among those who have raised their voice is Noelle Clark, a teacher in Wyoming. Her tweet received over 15,400 retweets.
“#ArmMeWithSnacks to feed my hungry students who can’t focus. #ArmMeWithA curriculum that focuses on student passions rather than raising test scores,” Clark tweeted. “#ArmMeWitha comprehensive school counseling program. DO NOT #ArmMeWitha gun. I teach to raise up the future, not to bury it.”
Dede Addy is a graduate student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been teaching in elementary and middle schools in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia, for over five years.
The after-school program that Addy currently works for, The Holton Resource and Career Center, implemented a new policy of keeping classroom doors locked at all times in response to the Parkland shooting. She said that there has been a lot more emphasis on safety procedures and responses to threats in her after-school program.
“President Trump’s suggestion is absolutely ridiculous. Recent legislation has proposed a budget cut for teacher’s classroom supply budget,” Addy said. “Why would we support a gun for a teacher, but we wouldn’t support a teacher buying pens, pencils, paper, and other school supplies for their students?”
Addy said that her students often come from extremely different backgrounds and have very different experiences, but predicted that they would all have very similar reactions to a gun in the classroom.
“Many students would be scared knowing more guns are around,” Addy said. “Parents would probably not be very happy with the idea that their child could be in a classroom where there is a gun.”
The suggestion of arming teachers is not a new idea. The NRA reportedly suggested that teachers be given guns after the Sandy Hook shooting. Trump rekindled this proposal and has received a seemingly resounding “no” from educators.