Can Student Support and Academic Enrichment funds be used to surveil students and arm teachers?
- In the wake of a request by a school district in Texas to buy firearms for teachers with Title IV-A funds, Congress is examining whether school districts can use a Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant to purchase items related to school safety, such as metal detectors and security cameras, Ed Surge reports.
- So far, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has not taken a definitive stance. She indicated that she felt the decision should be left to the states and said she has no intention of taken any action on the matter. However, some lawmakers have already introduced legislation preventing the block grant from being used for firearm purchases.
- The question of whether the block grant — which is intended mainly for educational purposes and already limits the amount of tech hardware that can be bought — should be used for safety tech and firearms is stirring up controversy in the face of the continuing debate about how to best address school safety issues.
With much of the country still reeling over the recent spate of school shootings, school safety measures are still major concerns for educators and lawmakers. The Federal Commission on School Safety, which recently hosted its final listening session, has not yet released its findings, but the focus of much of the discussion has been on beefing up preventative measures, such as increasing mental health services, rather than focusing on handing out firearms to educators.
The question of whether teachers should be armed is one of the most controversial aspects of the nationwide debate. The current discussion over the use of Student Support and Academic Enrichment funds for weapons was initiated by a Texas school district that wanted to arm teachers. And recent Florida state legislation signed into law this spring imposes more restrictions on gun control overall, but also allows for teachers to carry weapons. Many consider the move to be a dangerous proposition, and the National School Safety and Security Services organization opposes the idea.
Increasing student surveillance is another controversial topic. Some advocates feel that increased surveillance interferes with student privacy rights, yet increased school monitoring is one of the most popular school security measures. Though privacy is an issue – especially in certain areas of a campus – when it comes to minors who are entrusted to the care of school district for a significant portion of time, school administrators need to keep in mind that increased surveillance means increased supervision. Students do need to be monitored for the sake of their safety from a threat from outside or inside the school community.