Professional Educators of Tennessee (ProED Tennessee) recently surveyed over 1400 Tennessee educators about school safety and potential ways to improve security at our schools. The statewide survey questions (conducted February 27-March 12) are available here.
While an overwhelming number of respondents, 88%, felt either safe or somewhat safe at their schools, there are some concerns about whether policies and procedures are actually being followed at all schools. 75% of those surveyed indicated that there has been a recent increase in security procedures and awareness. However, only 62% say their school has an “active shooter” protocol in place.
Perhaps more concerning is the fact that only 55% report that their School Resource Officer (SRO) carries a side-arm. Apparently, a huge percentage of Tennessee schools are protected only by security “monitors” rather than someone who can respond effectively and immediately in the event of a threat to the school.
When it comes to arming teachers, which is a significant point of contention among policy makers, 53% of Tennessee educators responding to the survey indicated that they personally would be unlikely to carry a firearm if it was allowed. However, 63% felt that properly trained personnel should be allowed to carry a weapon at school.
59% of educators reported already owning a firearm — and nearly half (47%) of respondents overall stated that they would be likely or somewhat likely to have their weapon with them at school if the law allowed.
Audrey Shores, COO of ProED Tennessee, says the high number of responses to the survey, and the fact that over 800 took the time to provide comments, is encouraging. “It is clear that educators are engaged in the issue of school security and ready to be active participants in the discussion of ways to better secure their campuses,” she said.
Contrary to some media reports that seem to indicate that teachers do not want any weapons on campus, the survey shows that nearly half are actually willing to consider undertaking responsibility for carrying a firearm on campus if it is allowed by law, Shores pointed out.
“It is also clear,” Shores noted, “that while a large majority of teachers reported feeling safe in their school, they also identified a number of areas for improvement, including mental health services and infrastructure.”
“Clearly there is a need for more trained guidance counselors and more attention to mental health if we want to properly protect our schools,” Shores added.
More details on the survey can be found on the ProEd Tennessee website.