Students, teachers, and parents from across the country are pleading with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to do the one thing she has pledged not to do: examine the role guns play in school shootings—a very reasonable request! Unfortunately, DeVos was not present at the meeting. A metaphor!
The New York Times reports that dozens of these concerned students, parents, and teachers spoke at a federal commission on school safety on Wednesday. Many expressed frustration with the Trump administration’s backwards approach to school safety, which includes bringing more guns into school and slashing funding for mental health programs.
From the Times:
The speakers’ demands largely echoed the responses that liberal advocacy groups have pointed to since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: more anti-violence programs, more mental health resources and better coordination between school and law enforcement officials in trying to identify at-risk students.
But the hearing provided a platform for voices from outside Washington who have dealt directly with violence inside and outside school buildings. They offered insight into the most divisive issues facing the commission: guns and the increased presence of law enforcement in schools.
“I don’t want to be scared. I don’t want to think that at any moment someone with a gun could walk in and hurt us all,” said recent high school graduate Alessia Modjarrad. “Please consider the possibilities that guns are the most important aspect of the purview of this commission.”
“I believe this commission should look at guns,” said another recent high school graduate, Michael Yin. “Rather than being a sign of cowardice it would show great courage for this commission and this administration.”
DeVos skipped the forum to attend a conference on apprenticeship in Switzerland, where she was the keynote speaker. Deputy Education Secretary Mick Zais represented the department instead, ceding that the comssision would look at “narrow aspects of gun ownership.”
“What we will be doing is looking at specific age limits for the purchase of specific kinds of weapons and we will be examining legal procedures for the confiscation of weapons from people with identified mental health issues, so we will be looking at those narrow aspects of gun ownership,” Zais said.
But DeVos has refused to consider that guns are a part of this conversation, as she told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the commission will “not, per se” focus on the impact guns have on school shootings.
Three other cabinet secretaries—Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Homeland Security Secretary Kristen Nielsen—who’ve been appointed to the panel also missed the meeting, according to the Times.
Betsy DeVos: clearly a champion of students everywhere.