Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos might let schools use federal funds to arm educators, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
If enacted, the department’s consideration would counteract Congress’s March school security bill, which provided districts with $50 million but forbade the money’s use for firearms.
“The department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety,” Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill told TheNYT. “The secretary nor the department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios.”
DeVos might allow school districts to use federal funding for firearms via Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, multiple sources told The NYT. The grants, which total $1 billion, focus on enhancing curriculum, introducing technology into classrooms to aid digital literacy and improving conditions for learning.
This latter part of the program currently emphasizes mental health counseling, a decrease in suspensions and expulsions, a revamping of programs assisting students on the journey out of the juvenile justice system and dropout prevention.
“We knew Betsy DeVos would try to do the bidding of the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers, but to even consider diverting resources used to support poor kids to flood schools with more guns is beyond the recklessness we believed she was willing to pursue,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten told TheNYT.
The Education Department’s proposal also runs contrary to the Justice Department’s Stop School Violence Act, which denies schools funding for guns or gun training.
“More guns in schools is simply, and obviously, not the answer,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Daniel Wessel told TheNYT. “Instead of using taxpayer dollars to make students less safe, Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration should stand up to the NRA and join Democrats in working to enact common-sense gun reforms.”
If approved, the plan would aid districts like Lee County, Virginia, which has independently sought to arm teachers, much to the displeasure of Virginia Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. (RELATED: Democratic Virginia Goes After Rural School District’s Plan To Arm Teachers)
Northam suggested that districts hire school resource officers with funds from a $1.3 million Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services grant, but Lee County school board chairman Michael Kidwell doubted the grant could service all of the state’s 130-plus school systems.
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