Top Dems Hold Forum on Comprehensive Approach to Prevent School Shootings

“The research … is clear: that more guns and schools built like Fort Knox do not make students and teachers safer, and likely negatively impact vulnerable students.”

WASHINGTON – TODAY, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Committee Democrats, and Democratic leadership hosted a forum entitled, “Preventing School Shootings: A Comprehensive Approach.”

“In the wake of Columbine, the knee-jerk reaction was to put more police in schools, invest in security infrastructure such as metal detectors, and turn our schools into fortresses. The research, on such policies, is clear: that more guns and schools built like Fort Knox do not make students and teachers safer, and likely negatively impact vulnerable students,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott. “The evidence is also clear  the overuse of exclusionary discipline and the disparate treatment of students of color and students with disabilities is robbing thousands of our most vulnerable students of the opportunity to learn and achieve.” 

Some Congressional Republicans and administration officials have placed the blame of school shootings – not on guns – but on civil rights protections for students of color and students with disabilities. They recently suggested that the 2014 ED-DOJ Discipline Guidance package led to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – a claim with no factual basis or evidence. Decades of evidence shows that students of color are subject to harsher discipline for non-violent offences than their white peers and that overuse of exclusionary discipline is a major contributor to the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’. The 2014 guidance package provides schools and districts the tools to ensure discipline policies and practices are employed equitably.

Instead of ‘hardening schools,’ Congress should support a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to violence prevention and improve school climate. This includes evidence-based solutions, such as: threat assessments, positive behavior interventions and supports, trauma informed care, mental health supports, social skills and character education, restorative justice programs, and culturally responsive practices. Research shows that these initiatives will actually make school safer.  Committee Democrats reject any efforts to arm teachers, and instead, support common sense gun violence prevention legislation that will help address school violence, improve school climate, and keep all students safe.

FACT SHEET: School Discipline Guidance: Debunking Myths

WITNESS TESTIMONY: Dr. Akil E. Ross, Sr., Principal at Chapin High School

WITNESS TESTIMONY: Stacey Lippel, English Teacher and Survivor of Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

WITNESS TESTIMONY: Dr. Dewey G. Cornell, Forensic Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Education at the University of Virginia

WITNESS TESTIMONY: Coldayne Hayden, Student at High School for Energy and Technology, New York, NY

WITNESS TESTIMONY: Joaquin Tamayo, Former Teacher, Principal, and Obama Administration Official

WITNESS TESTIMONY: Dr. Dianna Wentzell, Connecticut Commissioner of Education

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