Georgia Officials Propose $10,000 Stipend for Armed Teachers Under School Safety Plan

State legalized armed teachers in 2014 but only five districts have opted to allow educators to carry guns in class.
Georgia Officials Propose $10,000 Stipend for Armed Teachers Under School Safety Plan
Georgia state Sen. Burt Jones, then a candidate for lieutenant governor, speaks at a rally in Perry, Ga., on Sept. 25, 2021. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Michael Clements
11/1/2023
Updated:
11/1/2023
0:00

A plan to pay Georgia public school teachers $10,000 to be trained to carry guns in the classroom is meant to enhance security at Georgia’s public schools, according to a spokesperson for the Georgia lieutenant governor’s office.

“This is a proactive initiative to increase safety preparedness for faculty, law enforcement, and [school] systems who choose to participate. It’s sad, but it is the sign of the times, and the Senate is prepared to take action to protect all of Georgia’s students and school system personnel,” Ines Owens, policy and communications director for Lt. Gov. Burt Jones’s office, told The Epoch Times in an email.

Lisa Morgan, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times. She has publicly said her organization “categorically” opposes the plan and that the money would be better spent hiring counselors.

In her email, Ms. Owens said Mr. Jones is open to discussing the matter with anyone who has questions.

“The Lt. Governor’s Office is open to communicating with anyone on this issue, as long as the conversation is centered around facts and the true intent of the legislation, not what the media is trying to sensationalize,” she said.

Ms. Owens stressed that the training and stipend program, part of legislation that two state senators have committed to introduce during the General Assembly’s 2024 session, is entirely voluntary.

“Teacher participation is voluntary—there are no mandates to participate,” she said.

Republican Georgia state Sen. Max Burns, who has committed to introducing the legislation, wrote in a statement released on Oct. 25 that the proposal has only one objective.

“The safety of our school children and their classrooms is our first responsibility,” Mr. Burns wrote. “This legislation provides another tool to enhance school safety.”

According to the Oct. 25 statement, arming teachers is one element of a larger ongoing plan designed to help local officials make their schools safer.

Last April, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 147, the school safety bill, into law. The law requires all Georgia public schools to conduct an active shooter drill by Oct. 1 each year. Local districts may allow parents to opt their children out of the drills.

Gang Training in Plan Also

The new law also requires the state Professional Standards Commission to create a safety and anti-gang training program for school employees to improve security and identify gang members and recruiters.

“One of the most critical duties we have as public servants is to protect those who are most vulnerable—including all of Georgia’s children,” Mr. Jones is quoted as saying.

A Utah teacher is shown how to handle a handgun by instructor Clint Simon (R) at a concealed-weapons training class for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City on Dec. 27, 2012. (George Frey/Getty Images)
A Utah teacher is shown how to handle a handgun by instructor Clint Simon (R) at a concealed-weapons training class for 200 Utah teachers in West Valley City on Dec. 27, 2012. (George Frey/Getty Images)

The new proposal is meant to work with existing law to advance those aims, according to Ms. Owens.

Information from the lieutenant governor’s office shows that the proposed plan includes the $10,000 stipend and requirements for enhanced safety training, more robust school safety plans, increased local decision-making authority, and certified firearms training tailored to an education environment.

Ms. Owens said the training and stipends would be provided at no cost to the participating teachers or districts. The Georgia General Assembly has allocated $115 million to make school safety grants of up to $50,000 for every K–12 school in the state.

“These are state-funded grants. There will be no cost to teachers or systems who choose to participate in this voluntary program,” she said.

Few Georgia school districts have chosen to allow armed teachers in the classroom.

In 2014, Georgia began allowing school boards to permit trained personnel, including teachers, to carry guns at school. It’s unclear exactly how many of the 181 districts have done so. At least five allow some non-officers to carry guns. In Barrow and Cobb counties, that policy applies only to security personnel without police certification, not teachers.

According to the Georgia Department of Education website, the state has 181 school districts with more than 2,300 schools and 119,492 teachers teaching about 1.6 million students.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Michael Clements focuses mainly on the Second Amendment and individual rights for The Epoch Times. He has more than 30 years of experience in print journalism, having worked at newspapers in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. He is based in Durant, Oklahoma.