June 8, 2022
At Hearing, Pressley Blasts GOP Efforts to Arm Teachers and Militarize Schools, Calls for Bold Action to Combat Gun Violence
“A billion dollars, thousands of school police officers, and more than two decades later…we find ourselves in the same spot as before. We must do something about these damn guns.”
“Only in America do we consider arming teachers while failing to pay them a livable wage.”
WASHINGTON – Today, in a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) called for meaningful policy action to combat the uniquely American gun violence epidemic and rejected suggestions by Republican lawmakers that arming teachers and funding more school police is the answer to ending mass shootings.
Rep. Pressley is the lead sponsor of the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, bold, bicameral legislation that would help invest in safe and nurturing school climates that support all students and bring an end to the over-policing of our nation’s K-12 schools.
A full transcript of her exchange with the witness is available below and the full video is available here. To view the series of letters Rep. Pressley submitted for the Congressional Record, click here.
Transcript: At Hearing, Pressley Blasts GOP Efforts to Arm Teachers and Militarize Schools, Calls for Bold Action to Combat Gun Violence
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
June 8, 2022
REP. PRESSLEY: Thank you Madam Chair and thank you to all of our witnesses here today, especially our survivors, those who shared their pain, their grief, and their trauma.
I really do look forward to a day where our families and our children, children like little Miah will no longer have to relive their trauma simply to compel action.
Because only in America do we normalize mass shootings and the trauma left behind.
Now when a partner loses a spouse, we ascribe the word “widow” or “widower.”
When a child loses their parents – we use the word “orphan.”
There is no word to describe a parent who has suffered the devastating sorrow of losing a child.
The unimaginable pain, grief and trauma of burying your own baby. It just goes against the natural order of things.
And with gun violence now the leading cause of death for children, society, now we’re searching for a word, but what do we call the surviving parent who has been robbed of their child due to a massacre?
Only in America.
So whether it is our babies learning in school in Uvalde, our elders grocery shopping in Buffalo, or neighbors in my district – the Massachusetts 7th – whose experiences don’t always make national headlines but do deserve just as much attention—it is long past time to treat gun violence as the public health crisis that it is.
We must do something about these damn guns.
And yet, predictably some are resorting to deflection and distractions, touting failed policies that do more harm than good, like arming teachers and militarizing police in our schools.
Ms. Pringle very eloquently earlier today, you said “we need resources, not revolvers in our schools.” And yet, we spend one billion dollars over the last two decades to grow our school police.
Ms. Pringle, in your experience, does adding more police to schools end mass shootings, yes or no?
BECKY PRINGLE: No.
REP. PRESSLEY: I completely agree with you.
And so do the majority of experts that have studied the impacts of police in schools.
Chairwoman, I ask for unanimous consent to enter the following documents into the record: A 2015 study titled, “Preventing School Violence: Assessing Armed Guardians, School Policy, and Context,” a 2019 report titled, “Cops and No Counselors,” and a series of letters from the Federal School Discipline and Climate Group and more than 500 community-based organizations on the need to end the mass policing of our students and instead invest in trauma-informed services that make our schools and children safe.
CHAIRWOMAN MALONEY: Without objection.
REP. PRESSLEY: Since Columbine, our country has approached the problem of school shootings by funding school police.
A billion dollars, thousands of school police officers–when 90% of our students can’t access a school nurse or social worker or guidance counselor–and more than two decades later, we find ourselves in the same spot as before.
Only in America.
So instead of contributing to safety, the data show that police in schools can have the opposite effect and actually result in making many students feel less secure.
Ms. Pringle, what have you heard from educators and students about police in schools, especially from students who are Black, brown, LGBTQ+, or disabled?
BECKY PRINGLE: Our teachers, in fact all of our educators, are focused on making sure that they create a safe, welcoming environment for every single student. We know that our Black and brown, Indigenous students are disproportionately impacted by the inequities in every single social system in this country.
REP. PRESSLEY: Ms. Pringle, I’m sorry, I’m going to reclaim my time because I’m losing it here, I apologize.
Yes or no, outside of more police, some have recommended that arming teachers, hardening schools and even constructing schools so that they only have one door. Is this a good idea?
BECKY PRINGLE: It’s turning our schools into prisons. That’s never a good idea.
REP. PRESSLEY: Thank you.
This is not an issue of the architecture of our schools. This is about the foundation of our country and whether we care about our people—our children—more than guns.
Every single life robbed by gun violence mattered.
The 87-year-old at Bible study, the 27-year-old walking down the street, the 7-year-old learning to read — all had lives to live and dreams to achieve.
Only in America do we consider arming teachers while failing to pay them a livable wage.
Only in America do survivors have to start GoFundMe pages to afford mental health and trauma supports.
Only in America do we expect survivors who have barely buried their loved ones to make the case for policymakers to save lives.
I yield back.