Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb on Thursday blasted a plan by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to use federal funds to buy guns for the nation’s school teachers.
Kleeb was joined by the Nebraska State Education Association, which represents 28,000 public school teachers and other educational professionals across Nebraska, in condemning the plan.
“Sen. Deb Fischer voted to confirm DeVos even though Nebraskans begged her not to. And this is what we get,” Kleeb said. “Betsy DeVos is driving home the point that she’s woefully unqualified to direct our nation’s education policy with this ridiculous and dangerous scheme to arm teachers using taxpayers’ money.”
NSEA President Jenni Benson said: “The DeVos plan to pay for guns in schools shows an incredibly naive lack of judgment. Educators, lawmakers and law enforcement officers almost universally oppose this tactic for the most obvious of reasons.
“Further, spending those federal dollars on mental health and counseling services would do more to make our schools safe than would spending millions on weapons,” Benson said. “This latest DeVos scheme inserts dangerous weapons into the school day and pads profits for gunmakers.”
The New York Times reports that “such a move appears to be unprecedented, reversing a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weapons.”
But DeVos is looking at using the “Student Support and Academic Enrichment” grant program (which does not mention prohibiting weapons purchases) to let her approve approve plans by any state or school district to use such grant funding for firearms and firearm training.
The $1.6 billion grant program is part of the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which is intended for academic and enrichment opportunities and calls for school districts to use the money for providing a well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning and improving the use of technology for digital literacy.
“We should not be turning our schools into war zones by giving teachers guns,” Kleeb said. “Nebraskans, like all Americans, are horrified that school shootings have become routine,” Kleeb said. “Deb Fischer’s vote to confirm DeVos proved that she’s in Washington D.C. to do what her party bosses say and and ignore the concerns — and safety — of Nebraskans.”
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