Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly wanted to divert federal education funds to arm teachers with guns instead of its intended use — improving schools in poor communities.
DeVos considered distributing money from the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program. The funds would provide guns and firearms training for educators in the name of school safety, The New York Times reported.
The secretary wants to rob the $1 billion program that’s part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed under former President Barack Obama. Money from ESSA was to be used for things like improving school conditions and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
Schools in scores of African-American communities need those funds to help close the academic achievement gap, which ultimately has kept many in poverty. In 2016, which marked the 50th anniversary of the federal Equality of Education Opportunity report, there was little improvement in closing the achievement gap between Black and white students.
DeVos’ move would bypass congressional restrictions on using federal funds to purchase weapons. Lawmakers passed a school safety bill in March that prohibited school districts from spending federal dollars to buy guns.
But DeVos may have found a loophole. Rules on grants from the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program don’t prohibit using the funds for weapons, according to the Times.
However, the education secretary was still getting some pushback.
“We knew Betsy DeVos would try to do the bidding of the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers, but to even consider diverting resources used to support poor kids to flood schools with more guns is beyond the recklessness,” the American Federation of Teachers stated.