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

Law would prohibit eye tattoos in Washington state

Canada has already banned this procedure

Split Washington in two? 51st state movement highlights cultural divide

Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane introduces bill to establish state in Eastern Washington called Liberty

Bothell neighbors irked by colleges’ parking garage plan

Five floors and 600 stalls would address a shortage for students of UW Bothell and Cascadia College.

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, activists fight youth incarceration in King County

No New Youth Jail Coalition members send Valentines to King County officials asking them to reconsider funding priorities

Responders rescue man pinned under garbage truck in Kenmore

He spent more than an hour beneath the vehicle, authorities say.

Bothell wants in on region’s affordable housing plans

The mayor asked Challenge Seattle and Microsoft to think of Bothell as an opportunity site.

President’s emergency declaration sparks immediate legal backlash

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his team will sue the White House if federal funds originally intended for Washington state are interrupted.

Most Read