Mar 7, 2018, 12:22 PM ET

Arming teachers 'an oversimplification,' education secretary says

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After a private meeting with students from Stoneman Douglas High School, the location of a mass shooting that left 17 people dead and 14 people injured, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the Trump administration is "committed to not only listening, but action" on school safety.

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"It was, as I said, a sobering and inspiring moment," DeVos told reporters after her visit to campus. The students "have a lot of very important and worthwhile things to say."

DeVos — who just weeks ago suggested states have "the option and the opportunity" to arm teachers — on Wednesday said "arming teachers is an oversimplification and a mischaracterization, really."

Any school personnel deputized to carry weapons would have "lots and lots of training," she noted. And while bearing arms could be an "option" for certain highly-trained school personnel, it's "certainly not one that needs to be required or mandated for every community," she added.

PHOTO: A Broward County sheriffs deputy with the K-9 unit patrols outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., as students arrive on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018.The New York Times via Redux/FILE
A Broward County sheriff's deputy with the K-9 unit patrols outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., as students arrive on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018.

Federal lawmakers and state and local authorities should "continue pushing forward" on safety measures that have broad support, DeVos said.

Some students pushed back.

Emma Gonzalez, the Stoneman Douglas senior who made a passionate plea for gun control laws at a Florida rally following the shooting, lashed out upon hearing the news of DeVos' visit:

Other students urged DeVos to act.

News - Arming teachers 'an oversimplification,' education secretary says

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  • Lois Brockson

    Anyone who thinks it is a good idea for teachers to be armed needs to study the Post Office and the history of the expression “going postal”!

  • glendower

    Some proactive school districts have had well-managed "armed teachers"
    programs in place for a number of years. In some cases, the school
    personnel--after a thorough screening process and background check--go
    through a higher level of training than police officers. See the CNN story, "These schools say arming teachers 'can be done right'"

  • rkb555

    Arming teachers 'an oversimplification,' education secretary says
    ----------------------------------

    Though she's back tracking on what she said earlier, that's the 1st intelligent thing to come out of her mouth

  • Bear

    This woman is a waste of space.

  • beingcurious

    Uh, tap dance much, Ms. DeVos?

  • Spiritborn

    Many school staff would want to conceal carry. Some already have the permit and training as I’ve found out by asking around. Google searches for NRA membership up 4900%. Not 4900 but 4900%. US citizens are increasingly interested in self protecting and it is useless to be afraid of guns for protection or hunting purposes.

  • Spiritborn

    Too bad some students are being taught to hate the new Administration that’s trying to protect them... eventually the observant young people will see the good progress in this country. Also guns are great for protection.

  • bgolds

    I wonder if Betsy Devoss allows her responsible staff members to carry concealed firearms?

    ...I'm guessing that's answer would be a 'no'.

    It makes you wonder: If this whole scheme is such a great idea, why don't Republican officeholders encourage people to visit while carrying a firearm? Don't they want to be safe?

    Being surrounded by total strangers who are packing concealed weapons is *definitely* the domain of the peasant classes.

  • Former Earthling

    Since they don't have bears in FL she doesn't think it's necessary to arm teachers.

  • Hanna68

    As if a handgun--which would need to be instantly accessible and thus reachable by a psycho student wanting to shoot up a school--could be a defense against an AR-15. A teacher reaching for a gun could be shot dead, along with other students in the classroom, before the desk drawer was halfway open. The teacher would also need to be (very expensively) trained in how to stay calm and focused amidst hysterical and deadly chaos. I imagine that being required to train in tactical defense would make an already underpaid teaching career even less attractive to potential educators. A far more palatable--and effective--defense would be the teacher's ability to press a carefully hidden but accessible silent button that would instantly alert all the necessary personnel as soon as the shooter starts shooting.

  • kritikosman

    She wants to bring in her brother's mercenaries.

  • I AM INSPIRED

    DWade met with more Parkland students and answered more questions than the Secretary of Education, today, 3 weeks after the murders. Tsk.

    DeVos looked scared to death running from the handful of hand-picked traumatized Parkland students. A billionaire who never attended public school, whose children will never attend public schools is in charge of this great nation's education system. Nice job, Trump. Nice job.

  • bgolds

    If only all those school teachers who molested their students had concealed firearms...

    ...We'd be SO much less likely to ever hear about their crimes!

    I'm all for this bold Devoss initiative! When do we start? What could possibly go wrong!

    On an unrelated side note, isn't her family the one that sent private military contractors to the longest war we've fought in American history? And they still can't figure out how to actually *win* it? And we get to pay them generously for their time?

    I'm confident that their newest 'get-tough' approach be super-duper this time around!

  • E Sverdrup

    I wonder what sort of death benefits they are planning to offer teachers to offset the risks.

  • SarahBeth2

    Where's the story on the new legislation passed by Florida State Congressmen regarding school security?

  • Primo Veritas

    We have "senior advisers" to the President who have no education, training or experience for the job. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Director of Housing and Development candidly admitted he is clueless about the job, but he hoped he would learn along the way. Worst of all, however, Trump entrusted the hearts and minds of American students to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    Speaking as a teacher myself, now retired, I can't find even a hint that DeVos ever was trained as a teacher, has had any classroom experience, nor anything else that qualifies her as an educator. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that students who survived the Florida mass shooting are lashing out. Sadly, as it was with Trump being elected POTUS, it's another case of people believing a profession is so simple anybody can do it.

  • B-K KnightRider

    Well DUH. Dreaming up childishly simplistic "solutions" for very complex problems is SOP for Republican/conservative ideologues and extremists.

  • bgolds

    Some people are trying to place blame on the Sheriff and the FBI, while placing no blame whatsoever on the people who cheer these gun policies on at every opportunity.

    It's like If you were a Senator, lobbying organization or President who made a career out of loosening laws that regulate dynamite, you endorsed the sale of dynamite to eighteen-year-olds, and proclaimed that people should be able to have hidden dynamite on their person at all times if they choose...

    I would think you were a babbling fool if you tried to blame everyone else when unexpected explosions started occurring.

    That's basically what's happening here, and it is a laugh-out-loud joke.

    We have the world's largest military, the highest rate of gun ownership, tough-talking windbags at every level of government...

    ...And we can't simply have a country where kids can have the expectation of going safely to to school.

    Got it.

    ...And the solution is more dynamite.

  • rightened

    Warning: any time this administration resorts to elementary-school language, they're talking out of their BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

    "Any school personnel deputized to carry weapons would have "lots and lots of training," she noted."

    "Lots and lots"? With whose money? School districts are lucky to keep utilities working. And how many of these teachers are going to be trained in martial arts/physical combat, in order to physically defend themselves long enough to reach their weapon and/or to keep that weapon out of someone else's hands? How many public school teachers are gym rats with brave hearts, who can be the super-soldier on school property in a moment's notice, when their bravery will have to be unquestionable?

  • MickC

    I'm a retired teacher and, for a while in the 2000's, we were trained to stand sideways during negotiations with troubled, armed, kids to present less of a target, negotiating techniques, etc.
    Then when school funding had a bad year, those things were terminated. The same will be true for training teachers who, unlike police, do not make any use of their training unless there's an incident so they're likely to forget a lot of things.
    On top of that, if an armed teacher has 30 kids in a class and an emergency is announced, does he leave the 30 kids alone while he looks through a large building for a problem that's likely to be over by the time he gets there.
    When a teacher is going down the rows of desks, working with individual students, he's going to be totally focused on teaching. How safe is his gun? It would be like a bank guard who is given the duty to add up series of numbers on an adding machine with no breaks for an hour at a time. How well is the bank guarded?

  • Wild Turkey

    To bring a little reality to the "discussion" -- I'm a retired teacher and a retired Army Officer, fired expert with .45 pistol and M-16 because I've been shooting since I was 8 or so.

    A teacher's first job is to take care of their students. This means keeping track of them and, in case of emergency, keeping them safe. That means a teacher would be tending to their students if a shooting started and would not be free to "march to the sound of guns" until the students were safe.

    If they did then take their gun and go into the halls they could be mistaken for a shooter which would cause more trouble than it would cure.

    Yes, knowing some teachers "might" be armed could act as a deterrent to some wanna-be shooters, but it could also act as an "attractant" that would lead those who want to "write their name in blood" because shooting teachers would raise their status.

    We need to address "WHY" instead of spending time pointing fingers at each other and calling the "other side" names.

    If I were still teaching I'm not sure if I'd carry a weapon (if permitted).

  • Puddin' Twain

    Devos stopped short of recommending a multi billion dollar contract with “Blackwater School Security, Inc.” to provide armed guards in every school in the country.