In the aftermath of yet another horrific school shooting, this one leaving 17 students and teachers dead in Parkland, FL, President Trump has ignored the cause of the problem, and has instead offered an almost incomprehensibly bad solution to the wrong problem–suggesting that teachers who agree to carry loaded weapons into schools, and received some sort of firearms training, would receive a “little bit of a bonus”:
“These people are cowards. They’re not going to walk into a school if 20% of the teachers have guns — it may be 10% or may be 40%. And what I’d recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus,” Trump said. “They’ll frankly feel more comfortable having the gun anyway. But you give them a little bit of a bonus.”
Let’s leave aside for the moment the reasons that arming teachers is a stupendously bad, ignorant, and uninformed policy suggestion (well, if you’re interested, you could take a look at this
). Instead, let’s focus on a somewhat under-covered, and perhaps equally troubling notion about Mr. Trump: the idea that he believes any problem can be solved simply by waving a couple of dollars at it.
We’ve seen this belief of his surface numerous times lately, most recently with the idea that corporations offering $1000 bonuses to their workers was a sign of a thriving economy and a demonstration of the benefits of the GOP’s tax cut plan. Never mind that when WalMart announced their $1000 bonus plan to great public and media acclaim last month, the truth was slightly less rosy…
The announcement comes the same day it was revealed Walmart has plans to close 63 Sam’s Club stores across the country, Business Insider reported. Some employees showed up to work Thursday, only to find the doors locked and a notice posted to announce their store’s closure.”After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy,” the Walmart-owned chain tweeted just after noon. “Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates”…Ahead of Walmart’s announcement, the total cost of bonuses amounted to only .09% of the tax cuts to corporate America over 10 years, Think Progress reported.
So, while some workers were “rewarded” with a one-time cash payout of $1000, thousands more lost their jobs, and the corporation still realizes a massive tax savings in the end.
Trump’s current scheme of offering teachers willing to carry a weapon into their classrooms a “little bit of a bonus” represents an even more Draconian bargain. In exchange for endangering the lives of millions of public school students and their colleagues, a small percentage of armed school personnel (10%? 20%? 40? coaches
? Trump’s not really a details guy…) would receive a small one-time stipend. In closely examining his comments on the still nascent plan, it seems clear that the businessman sees this as a
cost-effective way to “harden” schools without spending a lot of money. He and his Secretary of Education want to save the real money for their voucher plan
, and their efforts to privatize the nation’s schools–assuming there are any schools left standing by the time they are done implementing these radical ideas.
Trump’s critics are already out in force with scathing reviews of this idea, and the newest polls indicate that 67% of voters believe that banning assault weapons would prevent even more needless violence and loss of life.
But the president’s* supporters are praising him for actually “doing something” to address the problem of school shootings. And I think they’re right. We do need to do something–but it’s not arming teachers…or “hardening” schools (whatever that means)…or traumatizing more children and teachers with “active shooter drills” and ALICE training.
And it’s not turning schools–which should be open, inviting, and welcoming spaces that bring communities together–into fortresses. The only thing that these measures will help is our students’ transition from school to prison that is already a major problem for too many young persons in this country–a problem that neither Mr. Trump or Sec. DeVos have ever mentioned, or seem terribly concerned with.
Teachers don’t need–or want–bonuses for being armed. They need to be treated like the professionals they are, paid a living wage, have the benefits that have been eliminated from their contracts restored, and have the peace of mind to know they aren’t risking their lives every morning when they walk through their school’s doors.
Bonuses are for doing something “extra”–salaries are for doing your job. That “something extra” for teachers should be coaching the middle school cross country team, or directing the high school musical, or advising the school yearbook, or chaperoning the school dance–not throwing yourself in front of your students in the onslaught of an AR15 attack, or barricading the classroom entrance in the face of a shooter armed with an assault weapon.
The vast majority of teachers will never agree to carry a weapon into a school.
And the ones who would shouldn’t be anywhere near children.
Bonus or no bonus.
Author: Mitchell Robinson
is associate professor of music education at Michigan State University. His research is focused on music education and education policy. Follow him on Facebook HERE
and Twitter at @MRobmused
. His own blog is at MitchellRobinson.net