GAE reaffirms stance against arming teachers

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2018

ATLANTA -- "The Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) is on record as being against arming teachers in classrooms and schools. The association strongly feels arming teachers is irresponsible and a step in the wrong direction. The bottom line is that security of school campuses should be the focus of security professionals and the focus of teachers and students should be teaching and learning,” said GAE General Counsel Mike McGonigle.

“We strongly spoke out against a past bill giving teachers the ability to carry concealed weapons in K-12 schools and we will continue to do so. We also believe the unfortunate and persistent climate of racial bias and disparities as currently exists in public education, coupled with teachers carrying weapons, could contribute to students of color feeling even more marginalized,” he said.

McGonigle says that GAE believes it’s the responsibility of every educator and school employee to help provide a school atmosphere free from harassment, threats, intimidation, name-calling, or taunting for any reason. “At a minimum, all school facilities and surrounding property must first be weapons-free zones with appropriate penalties and consequences for violating school safety laws. A 1,000-foot buffer zone that was once in place was eliminated from the law a few legislative sessions ago, and we encourage lawmakers – as we did then -- to reinstate those buffer zones particularly around K-12 schools,” said McGonigle.

“We applaud the recent efforts in Cherokee County," he said. "They are taking a comprehensive review and strategy approach to what can help make their schools safer for their students. They just aren’t jumping to the ‘let’s arm our teachers option,’ without first looking at everything else they can do.”

GAE has always believed that local boards of education have a responsibility to provide and enforce policies to ensure an orderly atmosphere within each campus. This includes providing adequate funding for on-campus security to help prevent and/or react quickly to any adverse situation that may occur, including the hiring of more resource officers and/or equipment as may be needed.