By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Filipino teachers here have added their voices against arming themselves at school to ensure their students’ safety. The issue has once again rose following the February 14 shooting rampage at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Among the 17 casualties to the crime by alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz was a Fil-Am student Carmen Marie Schentrup.
Joie T. Calub, Ph.D., an Education Administrator at the NYC Department of Education, has this to say about arming school teachers:
“Teachers are in school systems because they are tasked to facilitate the teaching-learning process. They are accountable to better prepare the young generation for a more promising future. They have so much on their plates and the plan to arm them to keep their students safe is beyond me. Nowadays, it is a given that school systems need to fortify their systems and structure for the safety of their students and staff. However, it does not mean that it should be the teachers who will be armed and be made front and center when it comes to school safety. They should hire some other people who are better trained and solely tasked to protect the whole school community. Our teachers are already heroes in what they currently do. Their job does not even end with the school day.”
Before her career service at the NYC schools, Calub was a professor at the Cebu Normal University in birthplace Cebu, Philippines. She later became vice president for Academics at the Divine Word College of Laoag province and then as assistant superintendent of the education department for Cebu province.
Lumen Castaneda, a retired elementary school teacher in the Bronx and founding president of the teachers organization UNIFFIED, said that arming the teachers with guns is “the most idiotic thing to suggest. As teachers we are trained to teach the children. When there is something wrong, we have to gather the children. Let them hide in closets or gather in a bundle. If you arm me with a gun, how will I be able to do that? That should not happen anywhere in the world, especially in the United States of America where children cannot be told to keep quiet and stay still.”