Incoming Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett used to be a teacher himself.
And when StateImpact Florida asked him what he thinks about a growing conversation to arm public school teachers, he spoke as a former teacher.
“I’m not going to speak as the education commissioner, I’m going to speak as a former science teacher who loved what I did every day teaching science,” Bennett said.
“I didn’t get up in the morning to teach science with ever believing I would need to carry a gun. Okay?
“Now it pains me and it saddens me to think that the society we live in today is so drastically different than it was maybe when I was teaching, but I still hold that value,” he said.
Bennett was the state superintendent in Indiana from 2009-2012 before losing his re-election bid in November.
He said Indiana has a comprehensive safety training programs for school personnel, which was put in place before he was the schools chief.
He said many Indiana employees are certified safety specialists who work in schools examining what the best local policy is to ensure the safety of children.
“It’s a passion of mine because I was a trained school safety specialist in Indiana,” he said.
“And [arming teachers] is something that I want to have a very intense discussion about in Florida because again it saddens me that the ills of society have spilled over into our day-to-day life in schools that we are even having this conversation.”
The head of the Florida School Boards Association believes school security upgrades could cost $100 million this year.