Kline and his colleagues sent letters today to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Attorney General Eric Holder asking big questions about the executive actions the administration has already taken to curb school violence, its congressional proposals to boost mental health and improve school safety, and how effective existing school safety programs have been. The letters are signed by Kline, plus Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees K-12 policy, and Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., who oversees the higher education policy subcommittee. The lawmakers want Duncan to tell them:
- The purpose, schedule and end game for a "mental health listening tour" that Duncan and Sebelius are planning to kick off soon.
- How the department plans to determine "best practices" in school safety that will be laid out in model plans, scheduled to be released in May.
- Exactly where in the U.S. Department of Education all these new school safety programs would be housed. (Remember the department recently demoted the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.)
- How would these proposals differ significantly from school safety and counseling programs already on the books, such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Counseling program. (That's something Politics K-12 has been wondering too. The administration slated the counseling school program for consolidation in its last budget request. And it has previously done the same thing with school safety programs, including Safe and Drug-Free Schools State grants.)
- How these new proposals would avoid the pitfalls of Safe and Drug-Free Schools Grant program, which was scrapped because the Obama administration and Congress decided that the funds were spread too thinly to make a real difference.
- Which districts have gotten school safety grants, and what the program evaluations have looked like.