The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has unanimously passed a resolution declaring its opposition to arming teachers as part of any effort to protect students.
The Boston Globe reports that the board's action comes after proposals to arm teachers have been criticized by Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang, and other education officials.
“We very rarely take a public position that doesn’t have to do with regulation,” says Board Chairman Paul Sagan. “I think we felt that this issue rose above the normal.”
President Donald Trump has been pressing his case for arming teachers since a gunman killed 17 people last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, has said he would support arming school personnel who are comfortable carrying firearms.
The resolution adopted by the state board states that there is no evidence-based research that arming teachers would save lives during a mass shooting.
Teachers the resolution says, should be employed based on their educational credentials, “not their skills as a security officer.”
The resolution also says that letting anyone other than law enforcement officers carry firearms in schools would increase the risk of accidental shootings of students and others.
The board approved the resolution after hearing presentations about school safety from state education officials and leaders of professional organizations for law enforcement and school superintendents.
Dudley Police Chief Steven J. Wojnar, who is president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, says police officers get about 100 hours of basic training and must be re-qualified every year to handle firearms.
The police chiefs association hasn’t taken an official position on Trump’s proposal, but many in the organization aren’t comfortable with arming teachers who have no training, he told the board.