Educators blast Trump plan to help arm school staff

The Trump administration pushed Monday to sell a school safety plan that includes the potential of armed school staff, but it was met with intense criticism from school principals and teachers unions who said it didn’t go far enough and could prove harmful.

Nonetheless, state legislators in places like Mississippi and Alabama who are trying to pass laws that would ease restrictions on guns on K-12 campuses say their efforts have seen a boost in recent weeks as President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for arming school staff, following the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos acknowledged on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday that a gun in every classroom wouldn’t be “appropriate” even as she defended the policy. The White House on Sunday night announced backing for a new Justice Department program that would aid states that seek to train teachers and other school personnel to carry firearms, as part of a package of steps to curb school violence. Officials said that existing DOJ funds would be used to assist states and local law enforcement that want to bolster their armed school personnel.

JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, praised components of the White House plan, but called the push to arm teachers and other school personnel beyond trained police and school resource officers “entirely misguided and dangerous.”

“While the Trump administration’s proposal provides coverage on several fronts, it leaves a gaping hole in addressing civilian access to weapons of war and offers solutions that could put more children in harm’s way,” Bartoletti said.

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