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Texas Tribune: “Arming more Texas teachers makes some black students, parents feel unsafe”

As the Texas legislature considers bills that would expand the School Marshal Program, a Texas Tribune article highlights the disproportionate effect that increasing the number of guns in schools in Texas could have on children and teens of color, who are already disciplined at higher rates than their white peers.

Texas Tribune’s Alex Samuels writes:

“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.

Stuck in the middle of this year’s political back-and-forth are students and parents of color who fear something the Legislature hasn’t discussed at length: whether expanding the program will put students of color — who are already overrepresented in exclusionary discipline across grade levels — in an unsafe learning environment.

“If we can’t even treat black and brown students with respect when all they’re doing is walking or talking, why would parents feel safe if we’re then arming people who are not law enforcement or increasing the amount of law enforcement at schools?” said Courtney Robinson, a scholar whose research focuses on the school-to-prison pipeline.

Children of color are also more likely to receive harsher punishments than their peers for the same behaviors, said Ellen Stone, the director of research for Texas Appleseed. That disproportionately exists in all levels of public schooling.

“Black youth aren’t more likely to misbehave, but they’re more likely to get punished,” Stone said.”

Research shows that students of color are more likely to receive harsher punishments than their peers, even for the same behaviors. Discipline data from Texas Appleseed illustrates these discriminatory outcomes: during the 2017-18 school year in Texas, Black students made up 25 percent of in-school suspensions and 33 percent of out-of-school suspensions, though they represented just 13 percent of the student body.

The Texas legislature is currently considering bills that would gut the gun storage standards for teachers carrying guns in schools. In the past month, the Texas Senate has advanced SB 243 and SB 406, bills that would allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom. SB 406 was heard in the House Homeland Security Committee this morning. Volunteers with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America testified against the bill.