States’ plans to make school safer reflect political divides

Governors throughout the nation committed to take action in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, to protect the safety of their kids.

Money has started to flow for school security enhancements, training, and other new initiatives to keep classrooms safer months later when children return to school.

However, the replies also mirrored partisan differences: while Democrats advocated for stricter gun legislation, many Republicans stressed investment on school security.

Every move has sparked discussion about whether or not states are taking the proper steps to combat the plague of school shootings.

Last month, during a special session of the Arkansas legislature, $50 million was put aside for a school safety fund that was suggested by the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson. Although the guidelines for allocating the funds have not been determined, Hutchinson has stated that he wants them to support the implementation of recommendations made by a school safety commission that he reinstated in the wake of the Texas shooting in May that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

According to Hutchinson, the incident “served as a warning that the danger of violence in our classrooms has not diminished.” “It’s still happening, and we need to act immediately to safeguard our kids,” the speaker said.

Texas put aside funds for school security along with numerous other states. Governor Greg Abbott and several prominent Republicans unveiled $105.5 million for programs aimed at enhancing school safety. For school police, over half of it was allocated for bulletproof vests, while $17.1 million went to districts for panic-alert equipment.

Other Republican governors who provided funding for security upgrades include Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, whose state is providing $2.6 million to expand training capacity and classes for school resource officers, and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who announced $100 million for school security three days after the Uvalde shooting.

“While these are the most recent steps we’ve taken to protect our kids, I can guarantee you that they won’t be the last. In June, Kemp, who is up for reelection, said, “I would work with anybody, even in the middle of a contentious election season, to defend our children.

Republican governors who have taken active steps to improve school safety include those who have rejected all forms of gun regulation.

Hutchinson had suggested that the age for purchasing an AR-15-style rifle, the sort of weapon used in Uvalde, be raised, but he didn’t pursue this idea during the session. Additionally, the relatives of the victims of the Uvalde tragedy have resisted Abbott’s proposals for stricter gun laws. Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, a Republican, promised to oppose any gun control measures when he issued an executive order concerning law enforcement training and risk assessment in schools.

California already has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country, but Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed a dozen more this legislative session and even bought newspaper advertisements in Texas denouncing the state’s gun laws.

In July, Newsom said, “We’re sick and tired of playing defense in this movement.

In New Jersey, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy last month signed legislation mandating the establishment of assessment teams to reduce violence in schools by the state’s almost 600 school districts. One of the bill’s proponents related a story of a victim from Uvalde who feigned to have died in the assault in order to flee the gunman.

Does anybody want to demonstrate how to act dead to me? Democratic assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said during a hearing in June.

Even though there are party differences on the issue of gun violence, a group of governors says it will work to establish a middle ground. Following the incident in Uvalde, the National Governors Association formed a task committee to study ways to prevent mass shootings, with a focus on school safety. Former association chairman Hutchinson has said that the task force would pay particular attention to how states may utilize funding provided to them by the bipartisan gun control legislation President Joe Biden signed in June.

The breadth and viability of state officials’ proposals have been questioned by educators, political rivals, and others.

Democratic legislators in Arkansas questioned whether districts receiving funding from the new grant program would be forced to have an armed presence on campus, which was one of the commission’s first recommendations.

The lone lawmaker to vote against the grant program was Democratic Sen. Linda Chesterfield, a retired teacher who said, “It’s one thing to say’school safety,’ but it spans the gamut of so much.” “Exactly what do you have in mind, and how much will it cost? I suppose I’m just sick of having to wing it and not knowing anything about what will be in that (commission’s) report.

Teachers’ unions in Ohio claim that one-time money for specialized items like door locks and radio systems—but not for continuing requirements like staff—is useful but insufficient.

According to Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, schools need funding for employees, including security and mental health professionals.

As part of their school safety plans, DiMauro stated, “Ideally, you’re going to employ resources to make sure that any school that wants to recruit well-trained school resource officers can do that.” And from that standpoint, you know, the $100 million won’t permanently cure the issue.

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