SAN ANTONIO – Read the latest information about the Uvalde school shooting here. Learn about the victims of Robb Elementary School here.
In the wake of the Santa Fe High School shooting in 2018, Texas lawmakers passed two bills in the 86th legislative session to increase campus security and teacher training. One was Senate Bill 11.
“It requires the hardening of school buildings, local school safety committees, emergency plans and threat assessments,” said Dr. Shannon Holmes, executive director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators.
Holmes said the other is a house bill that expanded the school marshal program. La Vernia ISD is an area school district that recently voted to allow staff members to carry concealed weapons.
“There’s a process for the guardian and marshal programs that each school district would have to go through, and they are laid out specifically in the statute. Districts who want to have educators carry on campus --those educators would have to go through a training program to be able to carry and make sure that they’re proficient and understand the school’s safety plan as they have it laid out,” said Shannon.
But despite those legislative changes, Robb Elementary in Uvalde is now the latest Texas public school dealing with the devastation of another mass shooting.
“Arming educators isn’t the answer. That’s just putting one more thing on their already full and overflowing plate,” said Ovidia Molina, president of the Texas State Teachers Association. “If you are an educator, a teacher, a hallway monitor, principal, whoever it is, you’re just putting another gun in the space. We’re not trained for that, and we’re also human beings who love our students. In many instances, the active shooters have been students or former students.”
Molina said lawmakers have not done enough to keep schools safe, and increased security measures are not working.
“We need to ensure that our students don’t have to go to school that feels like a prison, where you have to walk through a metal detector, lock the doors, and you only have one entry,” said Molina. “These are things that are gut reactions that don’t make our schools feel safe because we also have to worry about how our children are going to cope with this trauma.”
Both Holmes and Molina said more financial resources and funding are needed for student counseling.
“Our focus is going to turn to additional funding for school resource officers, additional funding for school counselors. Many times our counselors are involved in things that are more administrative or testing kind of duties,” said Holmes. “We need to free up our counselors to do more counseling and have a focus on student mental health.”
Molina added that more staff training and school shooter exercises are not the answer.
“We need to ensure that the lives that were lost yesterday are not lost in vain. That change happens so that another community doesn’t have to go through the same hurt and pain that we’re going through now,” said Molina. “And ensure that we are funding the whole child. Texas is failing on that.”
“This is really not an education issue. This is a societal issue that is being acted out on school campuses and targeting the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Holmes.
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