Two wildly popular youth outdoor programmes in West Virginia schools may be in jeopardy due to recommendations from the US Department of Education.
Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education for the United States, tried to stop the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) from funding outdoor programmes for hunter education and archery in schools. The Safer Communities Act, which was passed last year on a bipartisan basis, is the subject of Cardona’s advice. A total of 15 Republican senators, including West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, helped pass the legislation. The bill received support from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin as well, although both men claimed that the Education Secretary’s stance did not accurately reflect the content of the proposal.
Youth Outdoor Programmes
“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” addressed school safety issues like mental health and gun violence, according to Manchin. “Any defunding of schools that provide essential outdoor programmes like archery and hunting clubs would be a gross misreading of the law and yet another instance of this Administration trying to advance their radical agenda with blatant disregard for the law,” the statement reads.
Along with fellow Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Capito expressed a similar viewpoint and voted in favour of BSCA.
Capito told MetroNews, “I share the senators Cornyn and Tillis’s worry about the misinterpretation of the Biden administration’s decision to not fund these outdoor programmes. They are also the two writers of the legislation. “The Biden administration fails to comprehend that going beyond what was intended undermines the level of party support needed to make our communities safer. Another instance of the Biden administration seeking to advance its agenda against congressional intent may be seen here.
The Safer Communities Act effectively sought to forbid teachers from receiving firearms training in schools or from using educational funds to buy weapons. In the wake of multiple recent school shootings, the subject was a contentious one at the time. Cardona’s interpretation, however, adopts a strict
The Safer Communities Act effectively sought to forbid teachers from receiving firearms training in schools or from using educational funds to buy weapons. In the wake of multiple recent school shootings, the subject was a contentious one at the time. Cardona’s view, nevertheless, takes a strict stance and would outlaw training with any kind of “dangerous weapon.”
West Virginia may suffer a lot as a result of the position. One of the greatest youth outreach initiatives carried out by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is the well-liked and expanding National Archery in Schools programme. The NASP curriculum is used in school physical education programmes even though it is not supported by the schools, and teachers are trained to be instructors through the programme. Archery instruction can be offered as an after-school club or as part of the P.E. curriculum in schools.
2004 saw the debut of NASP in West Virginia. There are currently 350 schools taking part. The educational institutions include public, private, and religious elementary, middle, and high schools. Although not all school programmes compete in tournaments, the DNR claims that they are engaged in implementing NASP curriculum in their schools.
According to NASP, a total of 25,202 West Virginia children were receiving instruction under the NASP programme in their school as of August 1, 2023.
For a long time, volunteers and members of the Natural Resources Police conducted hunter education lessons in the state’s public schools as a component of the health and physical education curriculum. The practise had been on the decline for a while, but it recently had a rebirth after the legislature passed House Bill 4065 in 2022, allowing schools to once again include hunter instruction as part of the school day inside the building.
The Natural Resources Police reports that in 2020, about 130 schools offered hunter education courses, and 2,014 pupils were certified in a course with academic implications. Due to Covid, there were no school-based classes in 2021. The organisation stated that 2,120 pupils successfully finished the hunter education course in 133 schools throughout 2022. In the most recent academic year, 2023, 2,317 pupils successfully finished a hunter education course in 139 different schools. The DNR reports that it continues to get requests from schools all around the state to begin hunter education programmes.
Because neither programme receives any ESEA funding in West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Education does not anticipate that the USDOE’s decision will have an impact on those outdoor programmes.
“These funds have not been utilised in West Virginia to support outdoor programmes. The Bipartisan Safe Communities Act, according to the WVDE, forbids the use of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funding to lend anyone a deadly weapon or to instruct anyone in using one. It only forbids the use of specific ESEA money for these activities, not these activities themselves. said Christy Day, the department’s spokeswoman, in an email. “ESEA Title IV funds are not used in West Virginia for archery and hunter instruction. These outdoor programmes have no impact on other government funding sources for schools. So, the state does not have a problem with this.
The West Virginia Department of Education believes that to be the truth, but most people are still unsure if that is the case. It is unclear whether the Federal Department of Education’s position simply forbids the use of ESEA monies for Archery and Hunter Education classes or whether any school receiving ESEA funds is forbidden from sponsoring the classes. If the latter, West Virginia would experience a tremendous impact.
In order to safeguard the outdoor programmes, representatives from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the office of Governor Jim Justice said they were aware of the situation. The Congressional Delegation of West Virginia is also informed and has indicated contact with the federal DOE to prevent any interference with widely used archery and hunter education curricula in schools around the country.
National conservation organisations have reacted strongly and are uniting to oppose Cardona’s mandate.