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GOP Politicians Seize on Killings to Promote Militarization of Schools, Abandonment of Obama Era Anti-Discrimination Actions

March 8, 2018

The GOP’s reactions to the slaughter of high school students in Florida are loathsome, baseless, and counter-productive. Yesterday’s Politico Morning Education E-Mail included two examples. The first example is a bill to be introduced by GOP Senator Lamar Alexander. My notes are in bold red italics:

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate education committee, today plans to introduce legislation to give states more flexibility to use existing federal funds to make schools safer. The bill would “broaden the authority” that states have under federal programs that fund teacher preparation and student support services, Alexander said on Tuesday. He said it would be cosponsored by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.). Sounds innocuous so far… but wait until you see what it means! 

The bill would allow states to use student support funding under Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act to “improve school safety infrastructure,” including “physical security, technology, and training of school personnel to recognize and respond to threats of school violence,” according to a summary from Alexander’s office. It would also allow states to use Title II teacher training funding “to hire and improve the professional development of school counselors.” Translation: we’re going to harden schools with money earmarked for STEM, technology and broadened curricula in schools

The legislation would also reauthorize a public health program – the “Children and Violence” program in the Public Health Service Act – that could help states “develop ways to support children struggling with violence.” Alexander said that the program was previously used in response to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. The bill also would create an interagency task force on school safety as well as a School Safety and Violence Prevention National Technical Assistance Center at the Education Department “to help states and local school districts address school safety and violence prevention needs.” Just what public schools need… another Task Force… and I’m willing to wager that the “school safety and violence prevention needs” will be to make schools into hard targets by… well… you know!  

The Politico Email goes on to Marco Rubio’s preposterous notion that the killings resulted from… wait for it… President Obama’s guidance on school discipline!

Speaking of school safety: Advocates are defending Obama-era school discipline guidance that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has targeted after the Parkland school shooting. On Monday, Rubio “strongly” urged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to change the guidance, which was aimed at curbing discrimination in school discipline. Rubio said it “may have contributed to systemic failures to report Nikolas Cruz,” the accused gunman, to police sooner when he exhibited disturbing behavior. But advocates said that assertion was “wildly misguided.” Kristen Harper, director of policy at Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization, previously worked with the Obama administration to craft the guidance. She wrote on Twitter that “to take advantage of this tragedy to take aim at the 2014 discipline guidance – which was put in place to protect children of color from discriminatory discipline based on race (which has zero relationship to Parkland) – just makes no sense at all.

This just in, Ms. Harper… the unofficial theme song of the GOP is “Stop Making Sense”… and these two reactions to the shooting are offered as additional exhibits to make the case.

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