Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements
 

America’s Armed Teachers: An Ethical Analysis


by Douglas Yacek — 2018

Background: In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, state legislatures considered a flurry of legislation that would allow school districts to arm their teachers. In at least 15 states such legislation has been signed into law. Parallel to these developments, a lively and at times strident public debate on the appropriateness of arming public school teachers has emerged in the media, especially as a result of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. Although the two sides of the debate offer illuminating insights into the pitfalls and promises of arming teachers, both tend to focus almost exclusively on the empirical issue of student safety. As a result, the public debate fails to address several central ethical issues associated with arming public school teachers. This article is an effort to pay these issues their due attention.

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to examine the ethical implications of arming public school teachers. Specifically, the article analyzes three intersecting domains relevant to the ethics of armed teachers: children’s rights, educational environments, and the problem of school violence. In doing so, this article seeks to make clear what is morally and educationally at stake when adopting security policies such as arming teachers. Generalizing from this analysis, the article concludes with a deliberative heuristic for educators and policy makers who would like to address school security in a humane and ethically responsible way.

Research Design: The design of this research conforms to the standards of ethical inquiry and argumentation in education. The article draws heavily on arguments and observations made by teachers, administrators, and educational commentators in the public sphere; state and federal legislation; research in social psychology, psychology, and sociology; and ethical theory.

Conclusions: The main conclusion resulting from this analysis is that the ethical grounds for arming teachers lack merit. The first half of the article argues that the empirical idiom in which the public debate is often carried out obscures important ethical issues concerning students’ perceptions of safety and the integrity of the school learning environment. In particular, I show that both sides have overlooked the ways in which armed teachers can undermine students’ developmental rights—i.e., their rights to an autonomy-promoting civic education. The second half of the article argues that armed protection transforms the role of both the teacher and student such that the conditions of democratic teaching and learning are seriously endangered. In the final sections, the argument turns to the issue of public fear surrounding school violence and concludes that efforts to prevent school violence may be counterproductive, especially when they are not coupled with larger-scale socioeconomic reforms.



To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Sign-in
Email:
Password:
Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
 
Purchase this Article
Purchase America’s Armed Teachers: An Ethical Analysis
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
$12
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
$25
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.
$210


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 120 Number 8, 2018, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22289, Date Accessed: 6/18/2018 1:36:38 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
 
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
 
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Douglas Yacek
    Leibniz University Hannover
    E-mail Author
    DOUGLAS YACEK, PhD, has a dual appointment as lecturer and research fellow in the Leibniz School of Education and the Institute of Special Education at the Leibniz University Hannover, Germany. His main areas of interest include philosophy of education, educational ethics and the history of educational thought. He has published on topics such as teaching controversial issues, the liberal arts, critical theory, and Friedrich Nietzsche. He is currently co-director of the Philosophy of Education Society of North America.
 
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS