AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
The school marshal program makes a lot of sense, especially in the wake of school shootings. Texas is expanding its school marshal program in the wake of the Santa Fe High School shooting last year.
However, it seems many minority students are less than comfortable with the idea of armed teachers.
District officials said the Cedar Ridge student was charged with assault and resisting arrest, but no criminal charges were filed in the Round Rock High incident. But because black students are overrepresented in all types of disciplinary referrals and are more likely to have their behavior addressed by school police officers than their white peers, Johnson worries about how law enforcement officers react to his fellow students of color.
And now, as Texas lawmakers look to expand the state’s school marshal program in the wake of last year’s deadly Santa Fe High School shooting, Johnson’s concerns extend beyond school resource officers and city police. Come fall, the high school senior’s worries will focus on younger black students at schools where educators trained as school marshals can carry their concealed handguns when students are present. He’s even more concerned that there could be no limit on how many marshals a school district can appoint — and that those marshals could have immunity in court for any “reasonable action” taken to maintain safety.
“We already get profiled based on the clothes we wear, how we look, our hair, what color our eyes are — and the main thing is the color of our skin,” Johnson said. “[Lawmakers] can’t cover up how these programs might have an unintentional impact on students of color.”
The marshal program trains school personnel, whose identities are kept secret from all but a few local officials, to act as armed security officers — or peace officers — in the absence of law enforcement. Advocates for the program say it gives schools the option to implement a last-minute line of defense if there’s an active shooter on campus. But gun control activists have decried the program because it puts more guns in Texas schools.
There’s a PR problem at work here.
We live in a country where one’s skin color isn’t supposed to matter, and while we can debate why black students are overrepresented in disciplinary cases, it doesn’t matter right now. What we have are students who don’t understand what the program is about and when a school marshal can act.
Of course, the media prefers it that way.
So do the anti-gunners who have blatantly misrepresented what armed teachers mean at every opportunity. The same group that routinely portrays teachers as angelic public servants are also representing them as horrible racists looking for the chance to kill a black student.
And we’ve failed to set the record straight sufficiently.
Yes, black students do appear to be disproportionately impacted in school disciplinary matters, but there’s a world of difference between being a class clown and being a school shooter. Even the routine school fight doesn’t rise to the level of someone needing to draw a gun. School marshals understand this and are trained to act accordingly.
It’s only when there’s a weapon presented that it matters, and at that moment it’s too late to call for help. You need someone there and there right then.
School marshals don’t represent a danger to students but stand as a shield for all students of all ethnicities.
It’s important that message gets out there.