This letter is regarding recently passed Florida Statute Senate Bill 7030, which expands the Florida Schools Guardian Program. This legislation now includes teachers who wish to carry a gun onto their school campus and into their classroom.
Each Florida county school board will make the decision to opt-in or stay out of the Florida Guardian Program, including this new expansion of the program. Our new state budget will financially support this expansion as well.
At a recent Okaloosa County School Board meeting, a young parent stated to the board members present that “ ... teachers are supposed to protect their students,” and he urged the School Board members to vote yes to the program and to let Okaloosa County teachers carry their guns into their classrooms.
I was astonished at his statement. As a parent, grandparent, and retired teacher with 33 years of experience in middle and high school classrooms, I have never had the idea of bringing my gun to class to protect my students from intruders, even a shooting intruder.
In that same moment, I thought, “Teachers are supposed to teach their students, not protect them.” I am certain that “protect your students” is not in teacher contracts, although student protection is a natural extension for most teachers in a crisis situation. But are teachers now being put in the untenable position of having to take their protective instincts to the level of carrying and using a firearm in their classroom? Will teachers who choose to have a classroom gun possibly have to take their protection to the highest level — possibly killing another human being?
I think there are very few Okaloosa County teachers who would agree to that level of student protection. It’s against our nurturing, caring nature to hurt anyone, especially with a gun. Okaloosa County residents, please tell our School Board members to vote against having this Florida Schools Guardian Program in our Okaloosa County Schools.
As one parent said that night, “Teachers don’t want it, students don’t want it, and parents don’t want it.” Let’s do what’s best for our children and our schools — vote no to the Guardian Program.
Deborah Baker-Rian, Niceville