Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell are urging U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to prohibit school districts from using federal funds to arm teachers.
“At a time when states and municipalities are struggling to adequately fund education, it is completely misguided and negligent to make federal grants available for the sake of arming teachers,” Malloy and Wentzell wrote in a letter to DeVos.
The two state officials wrote the letter on Aug. 28 but Malloy’s office released it to the press Friday.
DeVos said in a Sept. 1 letter to a member of Congress that she doesn’t plan to take any action on whether federal funds can be used to arm teachers. The declaration came after another top U.S. Department of Education official said state and local officials have always had authority to decide.
“I will not take any action that would expand or restrict the responsibilities and flexibilities granted to state and local education agencies by Congress,” DeVos said in the letter.
DeVos heads a federal commission on school safety that was formed after the deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a Florida high school.
An early draft of the commission’s report recommends that states and communities determine “based on the unique circumstances of each school” whether to arm its security personnel and teachers to be able to respond to violence. The draft’s section on training school personnel was reviewed by the Associated Press.
President Donald Trump has also expressed support for arming teachers.
Malloy and Wentzell oppose the idea of “turning educators — many of whom lack formal firearm training — into armed security guards.” On top of staffing and supplies, they said federal funds should instead go toward “increases social-emotional learning, a commitment to restorative practices,” and other policies they believe would make schools safer.
“We urge you to abandon this ill-conceived and dangerous idea,” they said in concluding the letter.
The letter also touts Connecticut’s strict gun laws, including measures passed in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.