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Mon May 27, 2013
US Education Secretary Arne Duncan In Hartford
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Hartford Friday for a town-hall style meeting with high school students. They talked about school safety in the wake of last year's Newtown school shooting.
Students had a chance to ask questions of both Secretary Duncan and Governor Malloy. Shamar Mahan started things off.
"In order to ensure the safety of the students at Classical Magnet and other schools across our state, I’m advocating for armed guards on school grounds like Enfield has already done, and similar to the armed guards that you have with you today. What is your plan to insure our safety?"
Governor Malloy responded by announcing that five million dollars was being made available to Connecticut municipalities in the first round of school security funding under a competitive grant program. On the question of armed guards, Malloy said that’s a decision for local officials.
"Many districts do provide forms of security, some districts don’t. Until we actually have a state standard, we’ll leave it up to communities."
Secretary Duncan voiced mixed views on the idea of armed guards.
"I will tell you in some of my toughest neighborhoods in Chicago we had principals who made the decision to use the dollars for armed security and put that instead into social workers and counselors and after school programming and saw tremendous reductions in violence."
One student asked Duncan how the nation should respond to a rare events like the Newtown massacre that leave such impact on society?
"Unfortunately while those kinds of events are very rare which is a good thing, again going back to my experience in Chicago, we lost a child due to gun violence every two weeks. It was staggeringly predictable."
"Hi. Brian Mantra. Classical Magnet School. It appears not much has changed since Columbine, Virginia Tech. Why should we expect different from this one?"
"My personal belief is that you can’t expect things to change, you have to demand that things change."
Duncan urged students to get involved with their schools and local communities to make their world safer.
He also announced 1.3 million dollar grant to the Newtown school district to help the community recover from the Sandy Hook shootings.
For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.