The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues
Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

Jarvis: Armed Educators, Incarcerated Students

Utah should invest in its education system and enact sensible gun safety laws instead of attacking students’ rights.
%28Design+by+Madelyn+Foulger+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29%0A
Madelyn Foulger
(Design by Madelyn Foulger | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Through H.B. 119, Rep. Tim Jimenez (R-Tooele County) plans to incentivize teachers to carry firearms in schools after training with law enforcement. With other bills impacting education — making book bans easier, restricting transgender people’s use of bathrooms, and a rollback of DEI programs across public education and government in the state — the Utah Legislature is making schools more like prisons than places of learning.

Legislators are taking frameworks and ideas from the carceral system and reinforcing them in schools. Instead of enacting policies that increase control of marginalized people, Utahns should invest in the education system, supporting teachers and students and enacting sensible gun safety laws.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline

The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the funneling of students toward the criminal system through school discipline. Relying on police and police-like methods of discipline in schools only increases this phenomenon.

Standardized U.S. schooling methods are obsolete and school curricula are whitewashed. In particular, history classes very rarely describe the truth of colonial America. Black, Brown and Indigenous people exist in every school subject, but those in power erase those perspectives. This means that white people create false realities that are taught in school.

That’s just one mechanism of exercising control in classrooms. Historically, oppressors have used school as a site of forced assimilation and violence.

Today, marginalized students, including Black and disabled students, are more likely to be disciplined at school. This further perpetuates racial inequities in the education system and beyond. These students face more suspensions, expulsions and law enforcement than their white and able-bodied peers.

This legislative session shows just how far some Utah legislators will go in perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline.

The Wrong Response

Gun violence is clearly a massive problem in the U.S. but lawmakers’ prevention efforts aren’t effective.

Some Salt Lake City schools employ weapons detectors, for which some even plan to use AI. These tools could disproportionately harm and escalate violence toward students of color.

Under Jimenez’s legislation, law enforcement would annually train the teachers who decide to take part in the program. This is the same racist police force that shoots and kills ethnic and racial minorities at alarming rates.

“It’s going to be a discriminatory law,” said Nancy Farrar-Halden, communications director at the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.

Moreover, police are useless during mass shootings, so “it seems rather wrong to think that we can train our teachers to do something that police officers can’t even do,” said Terri Gilfillan, board chair at GVPC Utah.

Jimenez’s bill would also allow teachers to secure guns on campuses in biometric safes. But even with these safes, gun safety isn’t guaranteed.

“It’s borne out through the years that more guns means more gun violence,” Gilfillan said.

If passed, the legislation would incentivize schools with $500 per participating teacher. This funding could go toward education or to the underpaid teachers themselves. Utah currently ranks second-to-last in the country for education funding, so this incentive is like a carrot on a stick for desperate teachers.

Furthermore, the bill states that teachers participating in the program would not be liable for civil damages or penalties resulting from use of the firearm.

Farrar-Halden acknowledged that most teachers wouldn’t participate in the program. However, especially considering these incentives, she said, “I worry who’s going to bite. Are we selecting for teachers that are maybe going to be a little more trigger-happy?”

Current methods of hardening schools are “only scaring students more,” said Savannah Pursglove of March for Our Lives Utah. This law would add to that fear.

“It’s not like you want your six-year-old to be comforted by the fact that they won’t be shot by the bad guy because they’re going to be protected by the good guy — who also has the exact same weapon that the bad guy has,” Pursglove said.

Adding more guns on school campuses is a backward approach.

“It’s increasing the risks that students are facing in schools rather than mitigating any of them,” Pursglove said.

Abolitionist Schooling and Violence Prevention

The school system needs to change, but Utah is heading in the wrong direction.

To create abolitionist classrooms, the Human Restoration Project supports engaging with nature and helping students practice critical thinking skills. They turn to a practice of ungrading, including peer assessment, that helps students see how their work has evolved. Grading systems should provide worthwhile feedback and motivate students to learn, but they often have the opposite effect.

Students and teachers also require more support to meet their needs. This includes better funding and pay for teachers and more mental health resources for students. Gilfillan said she’d like to see classes about nonviolent conflict resolution, more mental health resources and instruction on how to access those services.

Schools also need more teachers of color and thoughtful course materials. DEI and critical race theory, which legislators attack, are essential for including marginalized students in education. Greater access to high-quality education also reduces incarceration rates.

To prevent gun violence, sensible evidence-backed gun laws will be more effective than Jimenez’s bill. This includes safe storage laws, of which Utah’s are weak.

Among other gun safety laws, Farrar-Halden and Pursglove also advocate for red flag laws. These allow for temporary confiscation of firearms for people at risk of violence. This can also push those people to access mental health services, according to Farrar-Halden.

“It’s not one problem, and there’s not going to be one solution,” she said. But supporting students and helping them to feel safe while passing gun safety legislation will have a positive impact. Further policing of students will not.

Besides the likelihood that arming teachers only increases violence, it also sends a clear message to children at school: no one is safe, and even students cannot be trusted.

 

[email protected]

@carolinegjarvis

View Comments (3)
About the Contributors
Caroline Jarvis, Opinion Writer
(she/they) Caroline Jarvis is an opinion writer studying French and communications at the U. She loves reading, doing random art projects, playing guitar and taking care of her plants.
Madelyn Foulger, Social Media Manager, Design Contributer
Madelyn started at the Chronicle in 2022 as a social media contributor and designer before becoming Social Media Manager in May 2023. She's majoring in film and media arts with a minor in human rights and resources. Madelyn enjoys various creative pursuits, including writing, illustration, design, film, and photography.

Comments (3)

The Daily Utah Chronicle welcomes comments from our community. However, the Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to accept or deny user comments. A comment may be denied or removed if any of its content meets one or more of the following criteria: obscenity, profanity, racism, sexism, or hateful content; threats or encouragement of violent or illegal behavior; excessively long, off-topic or repetitive content; the use of threatening language or personal attacks against Chronicle members; posts violating copyright or trademark law; and advertisement or promotion of products, services, entities or individuals. Users who habitually post comments that must be removed may be blocked from commenting. In the case of duplicate or near-identical comments by the same user, only the first submission will be accepted. This includes comments posted across multiple articles. You can read more about our comment policy at https://dailyutahchronicle.com/comment-faqs/.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    John HedbergFeb 18, 2024 at 1:29 pm

    ******************************************

    This X/Twitter video (also reposted on Rumble) The Chronic won’t let me post is from Free Press, titled “We didn’t find any racial bias in police shootings”, detailing the release of a paper by Harvard Professor Roland Fryer.

    This video says it all about the whole Marxist-Equity priesthood, and their dishonest willingness to throw us all into the fire as human sacrifices with no compassion whatsoever the moment we depart one iota from their hate-dogma narrative.

    Kindly, with that Love each person shares in God’s eyes (By Any Name), equally fallible and forgivable, equally Loved~!

    Reply
  • N

    Nick bonsavageFeb 16, 2024 at 3:35 pm

    This article feels so out of touch with reality and certainly is on the extreme side of things…

    Reply
  • J

    John HedbergFeb 15, 2024 at 7:10 pm

    It’s the cities with strictest gun laws which have the most gun violence, since people who don’t mind breaking one law usually don’t mind breaking another, did you ever notice that? 😂🤪😋 When criminals don’t fear an active defender, they tend to act out more, for some incentivized reason. Can you imagine why? Hmmm…

    Have you never heard of Professor Thomas Sowell of Stanford? He has the receipts proving that nearly every one of your racist assertions is just pain wrong. He grew up out of Harlem, served in the Marines, went on to Howard, Harvard, and University of Chicago, and he’s been quite capably telling the real story of American culture for half a century. He’s also incredibly articulate as a writer and debater, so don’t expect to win many arguments with a researcher and writer of his caliber.

    BTW, his YouTube discussions are nearing legendary status, but if you like reading, start with “Black Rednecks & White Liberals”. Nothing is as astounding and inspiring as Frederick Douglass’s 3 autobiographies, but after that, “Black Rednecks” will really leave you reeling, and I mean that in a good way~! 😊 (Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals” probably wouldn’t hurt you to read, either)

    Thomas Sowell will knock some the that racist Marxist BS out of your system, and he’ll make you laugh at yourself while he does! Really interesting: highest recommendation~!

    Reply