Home > Uncategorized > Politico Recaps Legislative Action in Response to Parkland Shooting— and Good Guys With Guns Won Out

Politico Recaps Legislative Action in Response to Parkland Shooting— and Good Guys With Guns Won Out

May 16, 2018

Immediately after the shooting of innocent high school students in Parkland, Florida, politicians across the country pledged to provide more mental health services in schools and many politicians— including President Trump, changed their positions on gun laws advocated by the NRA. Since then, things changed. The NRA got most legislators and the President to back off on changes to gun regulations and most states beefed up law enforcement in schools instead of prioritizing mental health services. Indeed, the President went from a position of decrying legislators for their lack of courage in standing up to the NRA to adopting a position on school safety that only NRA hardliners believed in: arming classroom teachers.

Here is Politico’s synopsis of what transpired in legislatures since the Parkland shootings, which my emphases added:

STATES BOLSTER LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SCHOOLS: With the exception of Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people at a school shooting on Feb. 14, most states have so far rejected the Trump administration’s call to expand the number of armed teachers in schools. Many, though, are opting to add school resource officers — usually armed and specially trained officers employed by a police department or other law enforcement agency to work in one or more schools.

Legislation enacted or moving through 23 state legislatures since Feb. 14 would increase the number of law enforcement officers in schools, boost their training and allow retired officers to work in schools and carry firearms. More than 30 measures on using officers in schools have been proposed by lawmakers, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eleven have been signed into law.

Roughly two-thirds of public schools across the country already have either a law enforcement officer or a guard on campus, according to recently published federal Education Department data from 2016. That represents 43 percent of students in the U.S.

Shaken by the tragedy in Parkland, Florida lawmakers enacted a school safety package that includes $67 million to establish a program under the direction of sheriffs that would arm and train school staff to assist in active shooter situations. The package would also appropriate roughly $100 million to help districts hire school-based law enforcement and $70 million for programs to boost mental health assistance. (Let me do the math for you: $167 million for guns and good-guys-with-guns vs. $70 million for “mental health assistance”.)

In Kentucky, legislators instituted a fund to award $4,000 incentives for law enforcement officers who participate in school resource officertraining. In New York, legislators increased funding for school districts to hire law enforcement officers from just over $443,000 to $1.9 million. In Colorado, the legislature set aside $30 million for school safety, which districts can used to train school law enforcement officers.

In California, legislation introduced in the state Assembly would require a school resource officer in every school, including charters. In Rhode Island, a similar bill would require an officer at every middle school and high school.

The proposals come amid concerns from civil rights groups about the potential harm of heightened law enforcement for students of color and those with disabilities. They note that more officers are already assigned to middle and high schools with mostly black students. An analysis of recent Education Department civil rights data by the nonprofit research group Child Trends found that 54 percent of black students in mostly black middle schools and high schools have school-based law enforcement or security officers. Among white students in mostly white schools, that rate is 33 percent. Mel Leonor has the full story.

At the same time as states are spending millions on security, Politico noted that in the name of “efficiency” the USDOE is scaling back it’s efforts to address civil rights litigation and consolidating departments that provide services and support to K-12 education. Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos was visiting Southern New Hampshire University and a STEM public charter school in Manchester, NH, essentially championing on-line colleges and charter schools. Something is amiss with our nation’s priorities.

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