Republican lawmakers are attempting to push through a piece of legislation in North Carolina that promises pay hikes to teachers who undergo police training and carry weapons on campus. If approved, the program would cost at least $9.27 million and authorize to up to 3,000 educators to qualify for training.
Officially titled “The School Security Act of 2019,” Senate Bill 192 would create a new position called “teacher resource officer” and authorize select educators to carry firearms and make arrests on campus. The goal, according to the bill’s designers, is to incentivize teachers to complete police training and reduce the costs associated with hiring armed school resource officers. The pay bump would be about 5 percent of the instructor’s annual salary and would also allow for an additional two weeks of paid leave. The legislation was introduced Wednesday.
“The State shall support the efforts of teachers to protect the school community by paying a significant salary differential to selected teachers who complete Basic Law Enforcement Training and become sworn law enforcement officers,” the bill states.
According to the bill, the “teacher resource officer” would report to both the police department and the school, and would work under the supervision of the local police chief. The teacher’s certification records would not be classified as public records and could potentially elude “inspection and examination” by the public.
The North Carolina Association of Educators, a political and advocacy organization representing the state’s teachers, came out against the bill. In a statement, president Mark Jewell argued that it wouldn’t make campuses safer.
“Everyone wants safe school environments,” Jewell said. “However, we feel that this is a very dangerous approach and a disaster waiting to happen.”
The legislation was sponsored by Republican state senators Ralph Hise, Warren Daniel and majority whip Jerry Tillman. Newsweek has reached out to the lawmakers for comment.
In a statement to CNN, Tillman said the bill would help with the shortage of officers and reduce overall school costs.
“It’s extremely costly to put a school resource officer in every school … and there’s a great shortage of the number of applicants to law enforcement agencies,” Tillman said. “This bill is an attempt to bridge that gap.”
A similar bill was proposed in 2018, amid a spate of school shootings across the country, but it died before reaching a vote.
Other states have passed legislation aimed at incentivizing teachers to double as school guards. In Ohio, a county school district passed a measure that allows teachers to carry a weapon on campus without going through the same number of training hours as police officers. A judge ruled earlier this month that the measure could continue, knocking down a suit filed by parents.
The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have repeatedly come out against arming teachers. According to Education Week, a trade journal for teachers, 2018 saw at least 23 shootings at schools that resulted in 113 injuries or fatalities.
“Guns have no place in our schools,” the groups state. “Lawmakers at every level of government should dismiss this dangerous idea and instead focus on measures that will create the safe and supportive learning environments our children deserve.”