Alexander: Bill Will Help States Pay for More School Counselors, Alarm Systems, Security Cameras, Crisis Intervention Training

Posted on March 7, 2018

*Click here or on the photo above for video of Senator Alexander’s remarks.*

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said on the Senate floor legislation he is introducing will help Tennessee – and states across the country – use “every federal dollar available to them to keep their schools safe from violence and have the mental health services they need.”

“There are 100,000 public schools in the United States and most of the responsibility for making them safer for children lies with the state and local governments and families and communities that provide 90 percent of schools’ funding,” Alexander said. “But the federal government can and should help create an environment so that communities, school boards and states can create safer schools.

“Under this bill, the federal government can help in the following four ways: One, allow schools to use Title II funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to hire more counselors. Two, make it clear that schools can use federal funding they are already receiving through Title II and Title IV under the Every Student Succeeds Act to improve the professional development of school counselors, and to improve the school safety infrastructure, including installing new alarm systems, improving entrances and exits of school, installing security cameras, and other infrastructure upgrades. Three, our bill renews and updates the law to expand a successful program that helped train education personnel and ensure children have the services they need after a violent incident. And fourth, create an interagency task force led by the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, and Defense to make recommendations—not mandates, recommendations—on best practices, policies, and procedures to improve schools safety and school safety infrastructure.”

Alexander continued: “This bill would encourage and reinforce for Tennessee, and all of our states, that federal dollars may be used to: Hire more counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals at schools; Build safety infrastructure – such as securing doors, automatic locks, and smart entrances – to prevent intruders; and Developmental health programs to identify children who might be dangerous to other children. While most of the responsibility for improving the safety of our schools and the environment or climate of our schools rests with local and state officials, the federal government has a role to play.”

Alexander concluded: “I hope my colleagues will cosponsor and support our legislation to help states use every resource available to them to keep their schools safer from violence and have the mental health services they need.”

Alexander serves as the chairman of the Senate education and health committee, where he sponsored with Senator Murray (D-Wash.) the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, which reauthorized the law overseeing kindergarten, elementary and secondary education, and the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, which made the first major mental health reforms in a decade—focusing the federal government’s efforts on early intervention.

Click here for a one-page summary of the legislation.