Donald Trump is OK with arming teachers. These teachers know there's a better way.

As survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School push to prevent gun violence, elected officials are supporting an entirely different tactic: arming teachers.

President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet on Feb. 22 that teachers with military training or experience with firearms be allowed to carry concealed weapons in the classroom. By his estimate, around 20% of American educators would pass his standards (that's about 720,000 kindergarten to 12th-grade teachers).

It'd be a lot of guns around a lot of children, but Trump thinks that armed teachers would a strong deterrent (or better yet, a "GREAT DETERRENT").


But as quickly as Trump and his ilk could advocate for this idea, teachers on the front lines advocated for something else — common sense.

Educators Olivia Bertels and Brittany Wheaton, who met online through their respective teacher Instagram accounts, launched the hashtag #ArmMeWith to share what they need in their classrooms and schools more than weapons.

"Brittany approached me immediately ... with the idea to partner up and use our respective audiences on Instagram to start a campaign to bring awareness about how actual teachers in actual classrooms feel about arming themselves and the alternative solutions that we KNOW are better options for us, but more importantly, our students," Bertels writes in an interview over e-mail. "... My desk drawers are for candy and stickers, not a gun."

Their campaign quickly went viral, with more than 7,000 posts and submissions on Instagram in a matter of days.

We cannot afford to ignore the truth about what is happening in our country. What is truly frightening is the number of people who refuse to make decisions based upon facts. It is a fact that families sent their loved ones to school and now they are planning funerals. It is a fact that futures were ended when they were just beginning. It is a fact that too many students have lost their lives in a space where they are supposed to be educated and protected. It is a fact that too many people in power are not using that power to bring about the necessary changes that could prevent things like this from happening. Far too many bullets claim our students in the streets for them to claim our students in school, too. We don’t need rhetoric when reality is working overtime. #ArmMeWith the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. • • • • • #education #teacher #teachers #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #iteachtoo #teacherspayteachers #tpt #englishteacher #highschool #blackteachersrock #blackboyjoy #thedapperteacher #blackhistorymonth #blackhistory #armmewith

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"Having a weapon in the school, or even the classroom, would instill unnecessary fear and anxiety," says Jonathan Avery, a secondary English teacher also known as The Dapper Teacher. "Such a drastic, constant state of preparation would more than likely make students and teachers alike feel the constant presence of the possibility of danger, and that’s no way to live."

It's no way to learn either.

Before guns and weapons, here's what teachers would like to see more of in their schools, classrooms, and communities.

1. School supplies. Because we don't ask firefighters to pay for the hoses.

2. Legislators who "get it" and are ready to listen.

3. And yes, that means politicians who aren't in the pocket of the NRA.

Because you can't have it both ways.

4. Resources to help teachers care for every student.

5. A secretary of education who is — and maybe this sounds too out there — an educator.

6. New strategies for connecting with parents so work in the classroom can continue at home and vice versa.

7. Time to teach, support, and celebrate the importance of diversity and inclusion.

#armmewith

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8. Training and resources to incorporate restorative justice methods, which are great alternatives to detentions and suspensions.

And yes, this teacher in Australia joined in to support educators over here in the States. Australia has mostly put an end to gun violence.

9. Training to better support students going through a difficult time.

10. More counselors, school psychologists, and social workers.

These licensed and trained professionals are the caring adults we need to support our students.

We already ask a lot of teachers. Now more than ever, it's time to listen.

We ask them to be educators, counselors, coaches, custodians, drivers, and more. They’re hard-working, underpaid professionals in an often thankless job. And yet, we’ve seen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Sandy Hook, and Columbine, these brave educators will lay down their lives to protect students without hesitation. That’s because they love their field and the families they serve.

Before we ask one more thing of the educators in our community, let’s stop, listen, and hear how we can help.

"Thoughts and prayers are wonderful, but there are so many practical steps we can take. Talk to your political leaders. Voice your opinions. Keep the conversation going," Avery says. " Vote for change. And most of all, don’t get caught up in the rhetoric of either side. Common sense and human decency will lead you to what is right."

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

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Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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