A is for AR-15, B is for Bullet, C is for Cartridge…

Woodside Responds to the Idea of Arming Teachers


Coleen Sochan created this poster for her student leadership class

Stefan Sujansky, Co-Editor in Chief

WOODSIDE,CA- Proposals to arm classroom teachers in an effort to avert more school shootings has drawn criticism within the Woodside community.

On February 14th, Nikolas Jacob Cruz, a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to his old school in Parkland, Florida, armed with an AR-15 rifle and magazines. He proceeded to pull the fire alarm, firing at students and teachers as they left their classrooms, killing 17 and wounding many others.

In response to the massacre, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been quick to point out ways in which the tragedy could have been avoided. While liberals propose stricter gun ownership laws, a plan to train and arm educators, supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other conservatives, has drawn even more controversy.

President Donald Trump also voiced his support for the measure, tweeting, “Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem [of school shootings] instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!”

When suggestion of arming teachers has drawn an especially visceral negative reaction from both students and teachers at Woodside High School, deep in the heart of liberal Silicon Valley.

Zeejai Leonard, a Woodside junior, dismissed the idea, insisting, “I think that that is a horrible idea because teachers, by definition, are not meant to defend students; they are meant to educate students.”

A recent NPR/Ipsos poll found that 59% of Americans disagree with the idea that teachers should be trained to carry weapons on campus, demonstrating that most of the population agrees with Leonard’s assertions.

Wendy Porter, an assistant vice principal at Woodside, issued a statement on behalf of the administration, saying that “the proposal is problematic on a few different levels, in terms of actually producing a higher degree of safety.”

Teachers themselves have also responded negatively to the thought that they might have to carry a weapon in the classroom.

Gregory Gruszynski, bargaining chairman of the Sequoia District Teachers Association (SDTA), the union representing all district teachers, argued that, “In the high school in Florida, the actual sheriff’s officer that was assigned to the school didn’t go in and he was trained. The idea that teachers even should be trained to do that is sort of absurd.”

Students share this discomfort with the idea of educators being trained to carry guns.

During his Advanced Animation class, Leonard points towards his teacher, admitting, “I would feel less safe if Mr. Ettlin had a gun in his pocket.”

Texas has already implemented a plan through which schools send selected members of their staff to receive weapons and active shooter training. These few adults, known as “school marshals” remain anonymous to students and parents. Supporters of these measures point towards the the infrequency of school shootings in Texas as evidence that school marshals are helping keep students safe.

“Schools in California are safe places to be and they are weapon-free zones,” Gruszynski said. “Texas has a law that allows teachers to have weapons on campus, and I think California has it right.”

Even though the administration may not be completely supportive of arming teachers, they assure students and teachers that they are working to keep Woodside a safe environment for students and teachers.

“We’re talking about making sure that everyone understands safety plans and we’re working to ensure that there is good communication about that,” Porter told the Paw Print.

No matter what measures may be passed as a result of the Parkland shooting, the Woodside community can expect their teachers and peers to stand up against anything that may make their school less safe.

Gruszynski concluded by saying, “We have undocumented students at Woodside High School and the idea of seeing armed people that are authority figures, like teachers— I think it sends the wrong message. I think it would create fear amongst our population.”