The United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced she is considering the use of federal education funds to both arm and train teachers in the use of guns as a response to growing concerns with school shootings. The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) opposes this idea.
DeVos eyed the $1 billion Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant Program (Title IV under the Every Student Succeeds Act) as the source of funds from which to support a federal initiative to place guns in schools as a deterrent to school violence. The existing federal program provides funds for a series of much needed student services including academic tutoring, college counseling, mental health sessions, and dropout prevention services for students across the country with a specific focus on students from low-income families.
While SEF is heartbroken every time we learn of another school shooting, we fundamentally disagree with using federal funds to place weaponry in the hands of teachers. There is absolutely no evidence that arming teachers with guns would make schools safer. It could be argued that armed teachers in public schools might attract more school shootings from unstable individuals and put even more lives in danger.
Recently, Secretary DeVos updated her stance saying she has no intention to purchase firearms or firearm training for school staff. However, she intends to leave the decision to use federal funds to purchase guns and train teachers in firearm use up to individual states. SEF believes any policy that arms teachers with guns robs from funds needed to provide students with services they desperately need to excel in the classroom.
Federal funds are better spent in supporting services to both identify students with emotional needs and in providing those students with helpful counseling. Instead of allowing federal funds for guns in schools, SEF strongly supports programs such as Communities Schools which offer wraparound services, including social and emotional supports designed to make ALL of our kids feel safe. Allowing money from the federal budget for guns is a poor response to a serious concern.