« DeVos: Encourage Students to Take 'Calculated Risks' to Boost Career Paths | Main | Betsy DeVos' Chief Lawyer to Leave Education Department »

Sen. Kamala Harris, Who Called Arming Teachers 'Ridiculous,' Launches White House Bid


Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who has spoken about the link between education and public safety and recently backed striking Los Angeles teachers, announced Monday that she's joining the rapidly growing Democratic presidential field.

Harris worked for 20 years as a prosecutor in California before becoming the state's attorney general in 2011. She was elected to the Senate in 2016. So far, she hasn't focused much on K-12 education. 

But she's been clear that she thinks strong schools will lead to safer communities. 

"There's a connection between public education and public safety," Harris said in an interview earlier this year on "The Breakfast Club," a syndicated radio program. "It's cheaper to focus on educating young people than it is on incarcerating whole communities of young people."

And she's called President Donald Trump's proposal to arm teachers "ridiculous."

"We have many, many communities where our six- and seven-year-olds go to sleep at night listening to gun violence," she said during her "Breakfast Club" interview. "We have enough trauma in our community that we need to deal with without expecting that our second-grader is going to now go to school and look up at the front of the class at their teacher and she's strapping a gun. That doesn't make any sense."

Instead, she said, the country needs "meaningful smart gun safety laws," including universal background checks for firearms purchases.

Harris has criticized U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' support for arming teachers under certain conditions. And more broadly, she's called the secretary unqualified.

More recently, Harris supported striking teachers in L.A., in her home state of California.

Harris' father is Jamaican and her mother is Indian. She chose to announce her candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in part to honor her parents.

"My parents were very active in the civil rights movement, and that's the language I grew up hearing," she said in making the announcement on ABC's Goodmorning America. She said King was an aspirational leader, and she strives to be, too.  "We are flawed, we are not perfect but we are a great country when we think about the principles on which we were founded."

So who else is hoping for the Democratic nomination in 2020? 

We recently profiled Democratic presidential hopefuls including  Sen. Kirsten Gillabrand of New YorkSen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. And we wrote about Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., when he declared in 2017

Click here to see our 2020 cheat sheet of Democratic contenders

Photo Credit: Melina Mara for the Associated Press

Don't miss another Politics K-12 post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox.

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments