Last month a Pennsylvania school superintendent announced his plan to equip classrooms with five-gallon buckets of river stones to use in the event of a school shooter situation, a strategy that was dismissed by many safety experts.
Now Pennsylvania’s Erie Times-News reports that a second state superintendent has armed teachers with 16-inch wooden baseball bats in a gesture he calls “symbolic” — but also potentially practical in times of emergency.
Superintendent William Hall of the Millcreek Township School District gave the bats to some 500 teachers on April 9 during a training discussion on school shootings in the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., tragedy. Additional bats — about $1,800 was spent on 600 bats total — will be placed in offices and other school locations.
According to Hall, teachers are not expected to use the bats but will have the option to do so if a threat arises.
“The bats are more symbolic than anything,” Hall said. “However, we do want to have one consistent tool to have at somebody’s disposal in a classroom in the event they have to fight.
“It’s not about just hiding and waiting,” he added. “There are options, and one of those is to fight.”
Jon Cacchione of the local teachers’ union expressed support for the plan, but he cautioned that educators may oppose measures involving upgrading the bats to guns.
“It’s to make people comfortable with the idea that they can attack and not simply go into hard lockdown and just hide, as we’d been told in our training up to this point,” Cacchione said about the bat policy.
“The only thing we’re not in agreement with as a group, although certainly individual members disagree, is the idea of giving teachers guns,” he noted. “Having said that, we certainly don’t object to a greater presence of armed and certified police officers. But teachers are here to teach, not to be in the line of defense that carries weapons.”
The bats aren’t the only safety measure the school district is adopting. It is reportedly beefing up building security and securing entrances while mulling the possibility of one day arming school staff with guns. A full list of these “aggressive measures” is outlined on the district’s website.
But that may not cut it with some experts.
“People are looking to solutions that are ineffective because they are reticent to try data-driven solutions that are proven to work, like stronger gun laws,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told Yahoo Lifestyle in response to the “absurd” rocks-in-classrooms proposal.
John Matthews, executive director of the Community Safety Institute and a former chief of police, told Yahoo Lifestyle that schools should offer training for staff and students and employ campus safety teams to make “pragmatic recommendations.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
This gay couple is fighting for their right to be their high school’s prom king and king
22-year-old college student sparks controversy by showing off gun in graduation photos
A 13-year-old was suspended from school for drawing a stick figure with a gun