By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
If Education Secretary Betsy DeVos were to consult the nation’s educators and law enforcement officials she would immediately dismiss any consideration of providing federal funding to states for the purpose of arming classroom teachers.
Under her leadership, the department is currently mulling over the idea which has been promulgated by President Trump, and his allies at the National Rifle Association, which seems to believe that the answer to all of our problems is to arm every American citizen.
In a March 2018 Gallup Poll, seventy-three percent of the teachers asked responded that they were against educators being in possession of weapons. Nearly sixty percent of the respondents said that having armed teachers would create dangerously unsafe educational environments.
Congress has historically been opposed to the policy being considered by DeVos. In the legislation that we passed in March of this year, that included $50 million for local school districts, we restricted the funds to educational purposes, excluding the purchase of firearms.
School safety experts, including organizations that represent school safety officers, have joined legislators and teachers in opposing the policy being considered by DeVos.
It simply contravenes common sense. If DeVos and the administration were truly concerned about the safety of our students and our teachers, they would propose policies that make schools safer.
For instance, they would support laws and policies that prevent people with a history of mental illness from purchasing or owning firearms. They would promulgate the presence of fewer guns, not more.
If she will not listen to the voices of our teachers, perhaps she will listen to the two largest professional organizations that represent American educators, the National Education Association and the National Federation of Teachers. Both oppose the possibility of funds for guns.
Law enforcement officials, including those that head major police chief organizations in America overwhelmingly oppose what is being considered by DeVos. I have personally written to the Secretary expressing my opposition to what she is considering.
Seasoned educators believe that more guns will lead to greater harm to teachers and students. They are law enforcement professionals, and certainly their counsel should be heard before any decision is made.
Secretary DeVos, who came out of the business world before becoming the administration’s head educator, should listen to those who have lived and breathed education all of their lives.
To do otherwise would be foolish, and would simply be evidence that the nation’s education policies are being set by groups such as the National Rifle Association and not those who have devoted their lives to the well-being of our nation’s young people.
This article originally appeared in The Dallas Post Tribune.