US education secretary floats plan to use federal funds to arm teachers
30 August 2018
US Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reportedly considering the diversion of federal school money normally used to provide mental health resources for students and expand learning options and classroom technology to purchase guns instead. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last February, which killed 17, the Trump administration is calling for “hardening” schools and arming teachers to the horror of educators and students around the country.
DeVos created a federal school safety commission and held “listening sessions” in Kentucky and Washington, DC, which featured speakers calling for privatizing education with school vouchers and increasing police known euphemistically as “school resource officers.” Many participants, however, called for additional counselors and mental health specialists. Even at these carefully vetted events virtually no one endorsed the Trump demand to arm teachers.
The commission is expected to include a section in its report on the best practices for arming school personnel. In rural Lee County, Virginia, the school board has already voted to use grant money for arming teachers. “It’s a cheap way to add security to our schools and the best option we could do,” school board Chairman Mike Kidwell said. “Any state or federal funds, in my opinion, that could go toward arming someone like this is money well spent.”
Both Oklahoma and Texas have now asked for clarification on the legality of using federal funds through the Student Support and Academic Grants section of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to purchase firearms. The federal fund contains $1.1 billion specified for ensuring “safe…