AFT’s Weingarten Responds to Latest PDK Poll Showing Broad Support for School Safety Measures, but Limited Support for Arming Teachers
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the preliminary results of the 54th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, which demonstrates broad support for school security measures, but not for arming teachers.
The results echo the AFT’s own member poll, which showed more than 75 percent of preK-12 members oppose arming teachers and staff in public schools. By a similar margin, school staff favored both armed and unarmed security in their buildings.
“The people who are in classrooms every day—teachers, school staff and students—don’t want more guns in schools. The answer to gun violence is not more guns; guns are the problem, not the solution,” said Weingarten.
“Educators, parents, administrators, counselors and students want teachers to teach, not engage in a shootout with AR-15s. Especially now, as kids are headed back to school with more stress and trauma, and teachers are facing interference from politicians trying to ban books and single out certain students—we want to be focused on solutions, not sharpshooting. Arm us with books and resources, not guns.
“That said, there are always things we can do to make schools safe, welcoming spaces for everyone—interventions like red flag laws, increased background checks and safe storage provisions. While these poll results show high support for armed police officers in schools, AFT’s recent polling indicated that school staff favor both armed and unarmed security in their building. And our union’s leadership has passed a resolution outlining the need for school security personnel to be trained as peace officers and integrated within the school community, with a focus on nonviolent resolution of conflicts with a minimal use of force.
“Schools should be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses. Together with parents and caregivers, teachers and school staff continue to work to make every public school a place where educators want to work, parents want to send their kids, and students can truly thrive.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.