Reykdal: Washington State will not arm its teachers

State Superintendent responds to Betsy Devos’ consideration to arm teachers.

  • Saturday, August 25, 2018 8:30am
  • News
Chris Reykdal

Chris Reykdal

Yesterday, it was reported U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was considering using federal funds to arm teachers. Below is Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s statement.

It has been reported that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering a federal policy change that would allow states to use federal funding provided in the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program to purchase firearms for classroom teachers.

This program provides about $15 million to Washington state school districts. It funds a variety of activities, such as expanding science and engineering beyond the school day, supporting a local Youth and Government program, and increasing mental health services. It is important for Washingtonians to understand where I and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction stand on the issue of arming classroom teachers.

I will not authorize, permit, or distribute any resources to support efforts to arm teachers. State law is clear that our schools are gun-free zones for teachers and students. The law allows exceptions for commissioned police officers on our school grounds, and for designated and trained school resource officers.

While no research indicates arming teachers improves student safety, an abundance of research clearly shows gun density is strongly correlated with higher rates of homicide and suicide. The proposed approach by Secretary DeVos to promote more guns in schools appears to be based purely on ideology, and I remain deeply troubled that the U.S. Secretary of Education would consider increasing the risk of harm and possible death to students.

Research does not show us that putting firearms in schools will make them safer. Instead, this action will undoubtedly harden our schools, create a culture of fear and imprisonment, and raise anxiety about the safety of children in schools.

Youth suicide, domestic workplace violence, and accidental deaths by firearms are on the rise. Introducing more firearms into the school environment puts our students and school employees at much greater risk of being injured or killed by gunfire.

My agency will continue our efforts to increase mental health supports for students. We are seeking additional resources for school counselors, threat assessments for students believed to be at risk of suicide or other violence, and professional development for educators to better recognize students who are in need of mental health support.

Secretary DeVos should be utilizing every resource at her disposal to reduce the number of firearms in schools and to increase resources to address our students’ growing mental health needs.

I have been in public K–12 and higher education for 28 years, and I have never seen a more destructive and dangerous policy contemplation by a U.S. Secretary of Education.

Washington state will not participate!

More in News

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

Getting to know Bothell City Council candidates for position 6

Three are in the running in upcoming primary election.

Bothell counselor was inappropriate with boys, charges say

He allegedly touched a 10-year-old underneath the shirt and often brought up sexual development.

An aerial photo shows the locations of two earthquakes and five aftershocks in and near Monroe, which rattled the Puget Sound region early Friday. The first was the magnitude 4.6 quake at upper right, 13 miles under the intersection of U.S. 2 and Fryelands Boulevard SE at 2:51 a.m. The second, magnitude 3.5, occurred 18 miles under the Old Snohomish-Monroe Road at 2:53 a.m. The aftershocks followed during the ensuing two hours. This image depicts an area about 3 miles wide. (Herald staff and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network)
Early wake-up call: Twin quakes under Monroe rattle region

Thousands of people felt them. They were magnitude 4.6 and 3.5 and hit minutes apart.

Courtesy photo
King County Sheriff’s Office has been giving ICE unredacted information

Both the office and jail have supplied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

PSE’s battery storage project could help the clean energy roll-out

The tiny pilot project in Glacier could eventually be expanded.

Warning sign for a road closure. File photo
King County examines options to fund roads and bridges

Shortfall is roughly $250 million each year; county may seek tax from unincorporated voters.

Most Read