Lawmakers are making a final push for their bills at the State Capitol as the 88th Texas legislative session enters its final weeks. And as the anniversary of the Uvalde mass shooting nears, the spotlight will shine on bills that would address school safety.
Some of the headlines from the major pieces of legislation still on the table include the creation of a safety and security department at the Texas Education Agency, the requirement of an armed security officer on Texas campuses, and a $25,000 stipend for employees who choose to carry a gun on campus.
The Texas House and Senate have both already passed a bill with bipartisan support that would put panic buttons in classrooms statewide.
“I think that that really underscores, ‘OK, here’s something that we can at least agree,’ that whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, whether you’re conservative or liberal or progressive, we can all agree that getting assistance to a student in crisis or a classroom in crisis, however, defined, is something that we can all agree on,” Derek Cohen, vice president of policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said.
But some of the measures that lawmakers have taken might not ease teachers’ concerns.
“So fear is a major factor for our educators,” Rena Honea, president of Alliance AFT said. “Are they willing to put their life on the line for someone else’s child? Most of them, yes, they are. But then they have to consider what does that do for my family, for my own children, for my husband, my siblings?”
While addressing school safety in any capacity has broad support, State. Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), who represents Uvalde, said there’s one thing he wishes the legislature could accomplish.
“Under no certain terms should we avoid talking about guns. And I’m not going to talk stop talking about guns,” he said. “Seventy-six percent of Republicans have been polled very recently saying they want common sense gun safety solutions, raising the age limit, extreme mayors protective orders, closing the gun show loophole, a loophole. We’ve got to be able to do those types of things.”
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