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How Arkansas is training educators for active shooter scenarios

In the wake of tragedies like Uvalde, countless teachers, students, and parents have been left with questions-- one of the many includes active shooter training.

CONWAY, Ark. — In the wake of tragedies like Uvalde, it's easy to ask 'why' and 'what could have been done differently'-- a multitude of answers will pop up, including teachers.

For longtime educator Gene Parker, it feels as though there's not enough being done to prepare future educators for what may happen.

"Frustration is what I felt, because this is nothing new," Parker said. "We see this repeat itself over and over and over again."

Parker's career as an educator lasted 34 years with the Little Rock School District (LRSD) and during that time he both saw and taught a lot.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

"I don't feel that we are any closer as a society, and in particular as educators, to eliminating this issue than we were 10 years ago," he said.

During his career, he also worked with the Red Cross on a program to teach students how to respond in an active shooter situation, but also how to respond before anything ever happens.

"The idea was for these kids to be responsible and to be proactive as well, not simply victims on the other end," Parker said.

That's an outside program, one that's not a part of many educators' college education. However, it's something Parker said should be.

"It has to be a part, you have to look at what we've evolved or devolved into," he said. 

Grace Ayedemi is a recent graduate of the University of Central Arkansas' (UCA) College of Education. Now, she's on her way to her first teaching job in Austin, Texas.

She said she never had any college class teach her how to respond in an active shooter situation – just training she got as an RA.

"I don't think there was ever a class that I took that we had to talk about school shootings," she said. "Never, that never happened."

It's not UCA's fault either– it's not something students are taught. It's a difficult subject to handle for many and it may even be too much, according to Ayademi.

"It's another thing, we can talk about it from today to next year, but it's like, no one can tell you how you're going to handle that situation when it happens," she said.

While those lessons are usually common in a college classroom, Parker said it just might be time to start making it more regular conversation.

"So we've got to change the way we train so that we can change the way we do business, because the business has changed," he said.

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