Outcry Grows Over DeVos Plan to Divert Federal Funds and Put Guns in Schools

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, as students across the country return to school, we turn now to calls by House Democrats for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reject plans to grant federal funds to states to purchase firearms for teachers and school employees. The proposal comes after requests from Oklahoma, Texas and other states to train and arm school marshals. More than 170 Democrats—about 90 percent of the caucus—endorsed the letter to DeVos, arguing she has the authority to say no to such spending. The letter was organized by Representative Bobby Scott, the top Democrat on the House Education Committee. It argues, quote, “Arming teachers would not only jeopardize student and staff health and safety, but also run counter to Congressional intent, precedent, and common sense.”

AMY GOODMAN: DeVos’s plan would use federal Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants to pay for firearms and to train educators in their use, and would reverse long-standing federal policy prohibiting federal funds for arming teachers. Last week, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut spoke out against DeVos’s proposal, arguing it goes against guidelines about the use of Title IV federal funding.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY: Title IV language allows for money to be used to try to quell violence, but there’s a specific phrase here that seems to give clear guidance to the secretary, because you can use the grants for a school environment that is free of weapons. And yet, reportedly, the secretary is about to issue guidance saying that that money can be used to load schools up with weapons. That is in direct contravention of the statute itself, and certainly in contravention of the spirit of federal education law, given the act that we passed earlier this year that prohibits school safety dollars from being used to arm teachers.


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