SPRINGFIELD – Today President Donald Trump continued his calls for teachers to carry guns, going so far as to suggest armed teachers be given bonuses. The following is a statement from the Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin:

“We need to stop repeating history and tackle the school shooting epidemic head on, but arming our teachers is not the answer. Our teachers and support staff members did not sign up to carry guns! They are not law enforcement. They became teachers and support staff because they wanted to help students learn and succeed.

Our teachers should be focusing on the students in their classrooms and providing them with the quality education they deserve. No child should have to go to school worried about whether or not they’ll be able to go home after school. Studies show when a student is scared or has anxiety, that child’s performance and ability to learn is diminished. We want safe schools. We want our kids to be safe in all the right ways.

IEA has been fighting for safe schools for years. It’s built in to our legislative platform. After Sandy Hook, we adopted language that would create a plan for districts to follow to do a number of things, including: identify potential shooters; get them help, the mental health help they need; assess and address threats; prepare themselves and parents in case of a tragedy; and, directs them how to work with law enforcement.

We have a lesson plan on our website called Know Me Know My Name that schools can use, free of charge, to help identify the students who fly under the radar, the disenfranchised, that end up committing these senseless acts of violence. It’s never the kids who are star students. It’s the kids on the fringe.

We have been working to spread the word and implement trauma-informed practices throughout the state for more than three years now to try to prevent this from ever happening in Illinois. Our members don’t need to be carrying guns. We need to identify these kids who need help and connect them with the services they need to get them the help they need.”

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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