Subscribe
Opinion | TD originals

Arming Teachers: The Stupidest (and Most Racist) Idea Going

Teacher Lisa Jones reads to students at Watkins Elementary School in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Department of Education / CC 2.0)

“Who’s the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?”

—Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Star Wars”

It’s inspiring to watch youth activism right now. From Standing Rock to Black Lives Matter to the environment, young people are leading the charge toward an evolved humanity. The topic that has gotten the most attention in recent weeks is the way young folks are passionately working toward meaningful gun control, which is sure to have an effect.

At the same time, some people are working against our young folks, leading with old, decrepit, stupid and racist thinking. One of the stupidest—and most racist—ideas to be offered in recent years is the idea of arming teachers. That’s a big statement: This point in history is littered with a long series of stupid and racist ideas, including the election of the current president, stop-and-frisk laws, the school-to-prison pipeline, etc. But the idea of arming teachers is the stupidest and the most racist of all. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that our deeply controversial president would contemplate such a disturbing idea.

What’s really surprising is that this disease of an idea has moved beyond the president and gained traction among nonstupid and nonracist citizens.

Ugh.

According to a new CBS poll, the nation is split almost nearly in half on whether teachers should carry guns, with 44 percent of Americans saying they support arming more teachers and 50 percent opposing the idea. Even more unexpected is the fact that this is not split along entirely partisan lines. We tend to expect Republicans to stick to the party line in order to keep up their National Rifle Association contributions. But although 74 percent of Democrats oppose arming teachers, the poll shows that 20 percent support the prospect. Egads!

When I see polls like that, I think of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s quote, “Who’s the more foolish; the fool, or the fool who follows him?” We know this current president’s history of racism and playing fast and loose with the facts. But when we do the same, I wonder if we might be more stupid and racist than our president.

See, black students are suspended and expelled from school almost four times more often than white students. Native American students represent less than 1 percent of the student population but make up 2 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 3 percent of expulsions. Black and Native American female students also are suspended more often than white boys or girls. These are Department of Education facts.

Additionally, black and Native American students lack access to experienced teachers. According to the Department of Education, they tend to be disproportionally taught by first-year teachers.

Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes clear that law enforcement kills native people at a higher rate than anyone else. The long and sordid history of law enforcement killing black people at criminal rates is well-documented.

The equation is clear: Punitive and substandard educational structures for Native American and black students plus their interactions with law enforcement often lead to dead Native American and black people.

Which leads me to suspect that we can already guess which students would be targeted if teachers were to have guns. So how emphatically should we say, “Hell no?”

Native American and black kids should not have to bear the cost of America’s fascination with violence, no matter what our tone-deaf president says. We have done that for far too long. If we go along with this idea, we are even bigger fools than he is. We need to let everyone know that this notion is stupid, yes. But the idea of arming teachers is also patently racist, and we will not let it happen—not over our kids’ dead bodies.

Gyasi Ross
Gyasi Ross is a member of the Blackfeet Nation. He is a father, author, speaker and lawyer...
Gyasi Ross

Now you can personalize your Truthdig experience. To bookmark your favorite articles, please create a user profile.

Personalize your Truthdig experience. Choose authors to follow, bookmark your favorite articles and more.
Your Truthdig, your way. Access your favorite authors, articles and more.
or
or

A password will be e-mailed to you.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles and comments are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.