To: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Tell DeVos: Arm Schools with Resources, Not Guns

Arming teachers is not a solution to school shootings. Educators want to teach, not be armed at school. Students and parents want schools to be safe and welcoming places.

Using federal funds intended for academic and enrichment opportunities to pay for arming teachers only helps gun manufacturers, not the people you were appointed to protect as education secretary.

I demand that you immediately halt these plans and use the Title IV funds for what they were intended: providing a well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning and improving the use of technology for digital literacy.

Why is this important?

I pray that there will never be another school shooting like the one we lived through in Parkland, Fla. Even just earlier this year, it never occurred to me that we’d be in a situation where we might have a secretary of education consider diverting resources that are used to support poor kids in order to flood schools with more guns.

However, that’s exactly what we’re up against right now, since the news broke that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering a plan that would allow states to use federal funds to purchase guns for teachers.

As the New York Times reported, such a move would reverse a long-standing position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weapons. And it would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding for guns. As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.

The $1 billion student support program, part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, is intended for academic and enrichment opportunities in the country’s poorest schools, and it calls for school districts to use the money toward meeting three goals: providing a well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning, and improving the use of technology for digital literacy.

Instead of after-school programs or counselors, which are critical for creating safe and welcoming schools and addressing the mental health needs of kids, DeVos wants to turn schools into armed fortresses and make kids and educators less safe.

Educators, students and parents have made clear that they don’t want more guns in schools; teachers want to teach and students want to learn. Rather than disregard the demands and needs of the people who know what our schools require, the Department of Education should use Title IV funding to:

● Provide a well-rounded education (examples include expanding AP courses and access to such courses, arts education, civics education, more college and career counseling, environmental education, expanding foreign language options, STEM, and social-emotional learning);
● Ensure safe and healthy students (including asthma management, bullying prevention, drug and violence prevention, indoor air quality, safe schools, mental health, and suicide prevention); and
● Provide effective use of technology.

Arming teachers is a bad idea. We know that states with the strongest gun laws see less gun violence. And we know that educators, students and parents want a safe, welcoming place for students to learn, with adequate resources to make this a reality.

Stand with the education community now. Send a message to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that this plan is reckless, dangerous, and will have long-lasting effects on our students and our schools.