Reykdal: Washington State will not arm its teachers

Friday, August 24, 2018

State Superintendent of Schools
Chris Reykdal
On Wednesday, 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.

OLYMPIA—August 23, 2018—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!


Anonymous,  August 24, 2018 at 6:17 AM  

The stolen plane event should make it clear that arming our coworkers is a stupid and dangerous idea.

Doug August 24, 2018 at 6:54 AM  

Another idiot regarding guns. He uses nonsense conclusions. He claims there is no evidence that arming of teachers will help. Balderdash. There are schools doing this now and they have not had shootings. Even so, we know that gunfree zones are the most likely placss for shooters to select because they know thry won’t get resistance. In society, the more legal guns, the less crime. The strictest gun cities are the most unsafe ( Chicago, DC) Guns are great security. Fine, don’t arm the teachers. That is not practical and too expensive. However, don’t prevent qualified teachers from carrying their own guns. How about provide armed security and metal detectors? Just having that policy will deter many shooters.

Anonymous,  August 24, 2018 at 12:57 PM  

I'm glad I live in a state where common sense is prevalent. I applaud Chris Reykdal for his statement and his opposition to the federal stance. Betsey DeVos clearly has no clue about what is going on in public schools and she certainly doesn't possess common sense if she advocates arming teachers.

Doug August 28, 2018 at 8:35 AM  

The airlines example is silly. 1) an armed employee could have stopped him. 2) there ARE armed security at the aorports. 3) schools are a different because the public can access the students now with limited resistance. The airport is not open to the public. It is quite safe as a result.

Doug August 28, 2018 at 8:37 AM  

Betsy Devos id offering a solution. the Reydahl’s and left wing educators oppose doing anything to make schools safer. You can ridicule her idea, but offer a solution. Hers is a legitimate one that is working in districts that have implemented it.

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