Many Fil-Am educators say no to arming teachers
OAKLAND, California — Many Filipino American school officials and teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area do not approve of President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers and school personnel.
Three weeks after the after the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, school shooting that killed 17 and wounded 17 others, Trump proposed providing school personnel, including teachers, with firearms training.
He also backed a bill to improve criminal background checks on gun buyers but did not include increasing the minimum age to buy certain firearms.
San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Board President Hydra Mendoza said that she does not support guns because they tend to fall into the wrong hands.
No guns for minors
“I think they were used for many of the harmful crimes that we have. There has to be some control of these guns in some capacity. I don’t think they should ever be sold to minors. I think they have to be at least 21-years-old before they can own a gun. I think there should be stronger background checks. And guns like the AK-47 and AR-50 should never be sold. There is no reason for them to be sold.”
Mendoza confirmed that schools in SFUSD conduct active shooter drills in joint efforts with the city of San Francisco and the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) over the last several years.
SFUSD will be working closely with the Sandy Hook Foundation whose officials and members are coming to San Francisco to help SFUSD think about the processes that need to be in place.
More focused safety reevaluation needed
Union City-based New Haven Unified School District (NHUSD) Board Trustee Linda Canlas believes that there needs to be a focused reevaluation at every level regarding gun control in general and school safety in particular.
“What is working and what is not working? From there, there needs to be an action plan that is realistic and actionable,” stated Canlas, who added that there is also the important need of having resource officers and other trained safety officers on campus and this requires additional funding and support from those who disperse the funds.
“Yes, I believe that there needs to be a reasonable tightening of gun purchases compared to now. If the Florida shooter was able to obtain guns legally, something is not working. How could a young person diagnosed with autism and other mental issues as reported by the media obtain such arms legally? Aren’t there procedures in place to prevent this from happening? If not, then why not?” asked Canlas.
Canlas explained that NHUSD conducts drills: “Our schools practice locking down for intruder drills multiple times a year. These include ‘Code Blue’ drills where students and staff shelter in place, as well as ‘Code Red’ drills where students practice locking down in classrooms as if an intruder were on campus,” Canlas divulges.
Students in political process
“When students have the opportunity to be involved in a political process, learning is heightened. However, I would like to caution those in the authority to make wise decisions whether the outcome of a rally will be constructive or destructive. Decisions must be weighed carefully. Rallies should be carefully guided and organized and should be peacefully executed,” reminded Canlas.
NHUSD Director of Assessment and Evaluation Tracie Noriega insisted that school must be a place where families can expect that their children are safe.
“I don’t believe teachers should be armed, or that we have an armed guard. Schools are targeted because something happened at school. Usually, it’s been that a kid was bullied, or that attackers know kids are vulnerable, schools are vulnerable and there can be a lot of damage done. How do these folks get access to these types of weapons? That’s where gun control comes into place,” Noriega contends.
“How did we (school staff, parents, doctors, community) miss the signs that this person was needing mental health support? If we knew, why was it dismissed? Kids can be mean. I do think we can do more to teach kids about what connects us,” Noriega added.
Noriega also thinks that the voice of the youth be heard and should not be discounted as they are the future that should be supported, guided and listened to.
‘Real gun control needed’
Daly City-based Jefferson Union High School District (JUHSD) board trustee and Jefferson High School graduate Rosie U. Tejada, who was also past board president for two years, believes there should be “real gun control measures.”
“I am against arming teachers in the classroom. You don’t prevent mass shootings by bringing more guns into school. So many things can go wrong with firearms on campus. What does this tell our youth? That the threat of violence is always there? How can you learn in that environment? What about the students who have already been exposed to violence? School is supposed to be a safe place, and for some students, that is the only safe place for them,” Tejada stressed, adding that Parkland students and shooting survivors speak louder than any gun control lobby.
Tejada revealed that her school district routinely practices “Big Five” drills in preparation for any emergency but especially fire, earthquake, and active shooters. The “Big Five” refers to the school emergency response protocols instituted by the San Mateo County Office of Education and endorsed by all San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Commanders.
Strong ties with first responders
“Our relationship with first responders is strong. Schools have been practicing safety drills, and we have another active shooter drill set for this month. We are also coordinating drills with all schools and the district office, as well as drills with local first responders. It is a sad reality that we must be proactive and ready, and that we must think of the unthinkable,” disclosed Tejada.
Bucking the trend is Fremont special education teacher Jackie Metica-Crawford, who is all for training and arming teachers and supports the Second Amendment.
“I uphold the Second Amendment. You know what is also missing in the public school, God. Years ago they took away prayers in school! Students do not value respect anymore. All they know are their rights. Well every right has certain responsibilities,” Metica-Crawford argued.