Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Considers Using Federal Funding To Arm Schools
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering whether to allow states to purchase guns for educators using federal funding, an idea that runs contrary to a longstanding position by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weapons.
In an report by the New York Times, officials familiar with the plan in the Education Department is eyeing Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, a program separate from the federal education law, that does not explicitly prohibit use of funds for the purpose of purchasing firearms for teachers. The recent school safety bill, passed by Congress in March, allocates $50 million more a year to local school districts but expressly prohibits its funding for the purchase of weapons.
Unless Congress clarifies the terminology of the grants or takes legislative action and passes a law banning their use for the arming of teachers, DeVos may get her way.
A spokeswomen for the department told reporters that “the department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety. The secretary nor the department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios.”
The student support program, part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, allocates $1 billion to the country’s poorest schools and districts instructing its recipients to use the money for the three goals of providing a well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning and improving the use of technology for digital literacy.
Under the act’s current guidelines, the program encourages funds to be used for establishing of dropout prevention programs, mental-health counseling, reducing the number of suspensions and expulsions and improving reentry programs for youth transitioning from the juvenile justice system.
The department began exploring the use of support grants for the use of school safety following the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas.
Democrats, like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), were quick to respond to the reports of the secretary considering buying weapons for teachers.
What recklessness. What absurdity. Arming teachers will not make our schools or our children safer, period.https://t.co/QvehPGaziF
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 23, 2018
I asked teachers in MA if guns in classrooms would reduce gun violence in schools. 92% of those I surveyed said no. If you really want to keep kids safe @BetsyDeVosED, let’s put more counselors & mental health care professionals in schools – not more guns. https://t.co/mP15vcPOw1
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) August 23, 2018
Teachers can’t afford books & basic supplies as it is, & often have to dip into their personal funds to help provide a quality education to students.
Arming schools with weapons has never & will never be the answer.
Give teachers books NOT guns.https://t.co/kd7uIWC4a1
— Tish James (@TishJames) August 23, 2018