WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes (CT-5), a member of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on Thursday introduced a resolution condemning Secretary DeVos’ School Safety Commission recommendations to allow school districts to use federal funds for the purpose of arming teachers. Last year, Secretary of Education Besty DeVos suggested school districts could use federal funds to purchase firearms or provide firearm training for teachers.
Hayes, Murphy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) unveiled the legislation at a press conference Thursday. U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of the HELP Committee; U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (VA-3), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee; U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee; and U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (FL-22) co-sponsored the legislation.
“The issue of student safety is deeply personal for me,” said Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. “We should never put teachers in the position of having to pull a firearm inside a classroom. We should never leave children to fear the presence of more guns in their schools and communities. And we should never use federal dollars to siphon resources from our children’s academic success. I’m proud to lead the way with the support of my colleagues in putting forth legislation to keep guns out of our schools.”
“Using federal funds to arm teachers and put more guns into our schools isn’t what parents want. It’s not what students want. It’s not what teachers want. And it is not what the evidence tells us will make our schools safer. I’m proud to partner with Congresswoman Hayes to introduce legislation to keep guns out of our classrooms. Our number one priority should be to make sure our students are getting the best possible education without fearing for their lives. We know that arming teachers isn’t the answer,” said Murphy.
“We should be putting more money into our classrooms, not guns. We should be arming teachers with expanded resources and better technology, not firearms. Putting guns in the classroom is a dangerous and frightening prospect that makes schools fundamentally less safe. It has been rejected soundly and consistently by the entire educational community and the vast majority of parents. This resolution makes clear: arming teachers and militarizing schools is no answer to the epidemic of gun violence devastating communities across the country,” said Blumenthal.
“If Secretary DeVos was serious about making our schools safer, she would be doing everything she can to address gun violence—not suggesting school districts put more guns in schools by arming teachers,” said Murray, Ranking Member of the HELP Committee. “This is absolutely not what Congress intended and it’s not what students, parents, and teachers want. I’m going to keep pushing Secretary DeVos to stop pandering to the NRA and start putting students, and their safety, first.”
"As one of primary authors of the Every Student Succeeds Act, I know that Congress never intended - or even imagined - that the money allocated to improve school climate would be used to purchase firearms," said Scott, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. "This use of federal funds not only violates congressional intent, it endangers the safety of students and educators. I strongly support this resolution and join my colleagues in urging the Department of Education to use common sense and adhere to the clear legislative intent of the law."
“Arming teachers is not the answer to preventing school shootings. That should not be controversial. But Secretary DeVos seems to disagree, which is why it is essential that Congress make it clear that federal funds are off limits. We should be using those resources to keep students safe by funding gun violence prevention research at the CDC, mental health services, and bullying prevention programs in our schools—not to militarize classrooms. I am proud join my colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted on this dangerous proposal,” said DeLauro.
"We all want to make sure our children are safe in their schools. Putting guns in classrooms isn't the way to do it," said Deutch. "In fact, evidence suggests that more guns mean a greater risk of homicide, suicide, and accidental shootings. Teachers want to teach. They are already heroes for educating our children. Let's not require them to also use a gun to protect them."
Organizations endorsing the bill include: National Education Association (NEA), Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Newtown Action Alliance, National Association of School Psychologist (NASP), Brady, American Federation of School Administrators, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), American School Counselor Association, SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Giffords, National Association of College Admissions Counseling, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Association of School Nurses, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Futures without Violence, and Everytown.
Full text of the resolution is available here.