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

PNW plant-based foods could help in climate fight

Animal products create a lot of emissions, but veggie alternatives are coming from King County.

The Colstrip Power Plant in Montana. Puget Sound Energy owns 25 percent of the remaining two units. File photo
PSE files to sell part of Colstrip coal plant

The utility owns two units at the Montana power plant.

Fentanyl (Courtesy photo)
Fentanyl overdoses keep increasing in King County

Meth overdoses are on the rise as well, continuing a trend reported on last year.

Charter review could overhaul King County Sheriff’s Office

Several changes to the King County Sheriff’s Office were proposed.

The business will be closed for several days to board up the broken window. Photo courtesy of Bellevue Police Department Twitter
Driver confuses gas and brake pedals, crashes into Bellevue building

The car crashed halfway into the Omega Photo business.

File photo.
Upcoming event to give Bellevue residents a look at city budgeting

The event also aims to allow residents to provide budgeting feedback.

BSD likely to get largest school bond in district’s history

Early election returns show the levy passing by 62.52 percent.

Demographic changes, Census outreach efforts discussed at recent Bellevue council meeting

Community development shared with the council how the city’s makeup has changed in the last decade.

The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. File photo
Lawmakers flinch on banning for-profit detention facilities

Last minute amendment exempted ICE detainment facility.

Most Read