Since her confirmation hearing in 2017, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has signaled that she believes it's appropriate for schools to have guns on hand, whether to protect from grizzly bears or mass shooters. A recent report by the New York Times, corroborated by the Washington Post, suggests that DeVos’ Department of Education is considering a request by the Texas Department of Education to use federal grant money to purchase guns for schools.
If the Department were to allow the purchase of firearms under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program, also known as Title IV funds, it would be the first time a federal agency has authorized the purchase of weapons with federal money without Congressional authorization. The underlying bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, mandates that the federal grant monies be used for three purposes: providing a well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning, and improving the use of technology for digital literacy. Unfortunately this vague wording may be exploited to allow school districts to purchase firearms. If the Department of Education fails to clearly define what uses of Title IV funds are appropriate, school districts would be able to use federal taxpayer money to arm teachers and schools.
Let Secretary DeVos know that Title IV funds are not to be used to purchase firearms and tell your member of Congress that the Every Student Succeeds Act must be amended to prohibit the use of federal funds to purchase firearms.
Four calls to make:
Betsy DeVos, Department of Education: 202-401-3000
Senators Kennedy and Cassidy
Senator Bill Cassidy: DC Office: 202-224-5824; Metairie office: 504-838-0130; Monroe: 318-324-2111; Lake Charles: 337-493-5398; Alexandria: 318-448-7176
Senator John Kennedy: DC office: 202-224-4623; New Orleans: 504-581-6190; Lafayette: (337) 269-5980; Monroe: (318) 361-1489; Alexandria: (318) 445-2892; Baton Rouge: (225) 926-8033; Shreveport: (318) 670-5192
Representative Richmond or Scalise
Because of how Congressional districts are drawn, New Orleans residents have either Richmond or Scalise as their representative. If you don't know who your representative is, you can look it up by entering your home address on the U.S. House of Representatives website.
Representative Cedric Richmond - in DC at (202) 225-6636, and in New Orleans at (504) 288-3777
Representative Steve Scalise - in DC at (202) 225-3015, and in Metairie at (504) 837-1259
IF CALLING SECRETARY DEVOS: I'm calling to leave a message for Secretary DeVos. Please tell the Secretary I demand the Department of Education define the use of Title Four funds to explicitly prohibit the purchase of firearms. Title Four is meant to enhance student learning, not arm teachers.
IF CALLING CONGRESS:
Hi, my name is [Your Name] and I'm an active voter from New Orleans, ZIP Code 70118 [Or wherever you’re from].
I am calling to urge Betsy DeVos, Department of Education to support legislation that clarifies the use of Title Four funds to explicitly prohibit the purchase of firearms with taxpayer money. Title Four is meant to enhance student learning, not arm teachers.
Thank you for your time and attention.
This call is adapted from 5Calls.org, which can be viewed here.