In my role as a school district administrator in Washington State, I've had plenty of opportunity to be frustrated with the Washington State Legislature. Those frustrations are about to completely be eclipsed by the proposal of a Republican representative:
If Camas Rep. Liz Pike gets her way, teachers will carry guns in Washington State... It's an idea that is sure to be met with a lot of debate, especially because the central idea is to put guns in classrooms with children present.This is complete insanity to me on so many levels...
The premise of Pike's gun program is to put teachers through a voluntary mental examination and a week-long training session to prepare them for carrying weapons in public. The cost would be paid for by the teachers themselves, thus keeping the schools from enduring any additional expenses.
True, Washington's House of Representatives has a Democratic majority, so the likelihood of this proposal making it out of committee alive is low. But radio station KXL is reporting that there are 5 other proposals in the works allowing teachers to carry weapons in Washington State. Add to this that sellout Medina Democrat Senator Rondey Tom has allied with DINO Tim Sheldon of Shelton to form a coalition with the Senate Republicans. His reward is to be named Majority Leader in exchange for giving air to whatever crazy Republican proposals that may surface. There's enough volitility and uncertainty at the legislative level that some form of this idea may actually make it to law or at least be extraordinarily disruptive in the legislative process.
In my school district, one of my responsibilities is risk management, so I oversee our contracts for liability and property insurance. Our costs have been rising every year so we now spend close to $200,000 each year on insurance (this equals roughly the cost of 3 classroom teachers for salaries and benefits). Park's bill requires prospective concealed carry teachers to undergo a mental evaluation and training that they must pay for individually, giving it the color of cost neutrality for school districts. Carry will be completely voluntary and only the district superintendent and local police will know who is carrying (right, nothing escapes the inquisitive minds of a school, trust me, there are few secrets and student and staff will know very quickly who is armed and who is not).
Without a doubt, our insurance costs will multiply, pushing more dollars away from the classroom. Our policy provides coverage for acts of staff while performing school district business. This may result in us dropping this kind of coverage and becoming self insured. Either way our costs go up and we become exposed to enormous risk. Of course, this is not the sole or even the overriding consideration. We'll have to deal with the knowledge that people with guns may or may not be in our schools each and every day and we may not even know who they are or even if they are. Then one day a student will take a gun from a teacher and do harm to innocents.
My hope lies in the potential that the House will stop this or the Governor vetoes what ever form of this legislation may make it that far. Real potential for improving security in our schools lies in providing school resource officers. They wouldn't stop Newton (banning large capacity magazines and clips and easily concealable assault rifles will mitigate those kinds of incidents). They're most effective in developing information about threats so they could be stopped before they materialize. Not 100%, but really the best response we could find.
Rep. Pike needs to know her proposal is not the solution. Thanks to commenter Sharon Wraight, you can find Pike's facebook here, where she requested comments regarding her proposal.