(NewsNation) — With classes reopening in some parts of the country and soon in others, a former federal education official plans to arm teachers and “strengthen” schools. I am calling.
Students will start this fall in a tough environment. School districts are scrambling to find qualified educators in a continuing shortage of teachers, while shooting fears are heightened as sales of bulletproof backpacks soar. Concern is so high in some areas that one North Carolina county has stockpiled his AR-15 rifle in schools.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said arming teachers was a “terrible idea.” Duncan served under former President Barack Obama.
“It’s not heartbreaking,” Duncan said on NewsNation Prime on Sunday. “We value guns more than our children.”
Controversy over school safety resurfaced earlier this year following a shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. In the aftermath of the shooting, Congress passed the broadest gun violence bill since his 1990s.
School districts are stepping up security with measures such as stronger door locks, upgraded fencing and more resources for officers. It is said that what can be done is limited.
“You can’t harden arrival times, dismissals, break times, or sporting events,” said Duncan. “We as a country need to get serious about protecting our children.”
Schools are also facing shortages of teachers and bus drivers, which Duncan blames on low wages and lack of support from state leaders. Current Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said on Sunday the state should use COVID relief funds to address the shortage.
“Using these COVID dollars is a great way to help teachers,” Duncan said. “We should pay teachers more.”
Duncan said it will take a united and concerted effort to address the myriad problems facing schools.
“This is a state-building job,” he said. “If we can help each other and support each other, we can get out of this. We all need each other.”