Texas teachers could be paid up to $25,000 to multi-task as armed “sentinels” in school, under a new proposal.
The idea is laid out in a new bill being considered by lawmakers, which was written in response to the deadly mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school where 19 kids and two teachers were killed last year.
House Bill 13 would pay teachers or other school staffers to start packing heat at public and open-enrollment charter schools, but they would be required to take firearms and mental health training as well as learning first aid.
Aside from being armed, the appointed sentinels would be required to identify any student would might pose a risk to other kids.
“What I want to pay them for is hopefully getting the training needed to spot the children before we have a problem,” said Rep. Ken King, a Republican who represents Uvalde and who wrote the bill.
Opponents of HB 13 slammed the bill, claiming it would force cash-strapped educators to carry weapons just to boost their paychecks.
“Even teachers who don’t want to carry guns may feel like they are financially pressured to do so just so they can provide for their families,” said Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat and former teacher.
The proposal overwhelmingly passed the state House, but faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Texas already allows teachers to voluntarily carry weapons. Under the state’s guardian program, educators must first be approved by their school districts, pass a psychological exam and receive 80 hours of training to be armed.
However, in the 11 years since the program has been in existence, fewer than 400 teachers have signed up to be guardians.
The paid proposal is the one of few opportunities lawmakers in the Lone Star State have left to pass school safety measures before the biannual legislative sessions ends on May 29.
A separate bill, HB 3, requiring schools to have panic buttons and at least one armed security officer at every campus, is on its way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, reported the Texas Tribune.
Since the May 24, 2022, Uvalde shooting, when gunman Salvador Ramos unleashed on the school with an AR-15 rifle, parents’ pleas to pass gun control measures, including raising the minimum age to purchase an assault riffle, have fallen on deaf ears.