I’m not speaking of political terrorists but of the terror that spreading “ordinary” violence brings to communities. Amid the rash of school violence over the last few weeks, the town just next to my own placid, lovely Vermont town, Barre, was recently shaken when three teenagers got involved in a grisly murder of a down-and-out drifter and drug dealer. A friend of mine teaches at the Barre High School, and he said the entire student body is shaken up. Kids are edgy; fights are breaking out for no reason; the school teams are getting into scraps on the field.
So it was depressing and maddening to read this, from Think Progress:
In the past few weeks, the nation has been stunned by the rash of school shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin, and at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennyslvania. President Bush said he was ‘saddened and deeply concerned’ about the shootings and plans to convene a summit of education and law enforcement experts to discuss federal action that can help communities prevent violence.
Bush’s rhetoric doesn’t match his record. He has consistently recommended pulling funding for school violence prevention programs:
- In 2006, Bush proposed a five percent cut for youth and crime prevention programs. Bush’s 2005 budget proposed a 40 percent drop in juvenile-crime prevention, following a 44 percent cut in 2004.
- The Bush administration has repeatedly recommended eliminating federal funding for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools
and Communities State Grants program, which works on juvenile-crime prevention.
- Since 2001, Congress has voted to retain the Grants program over the administration’s objections, but at reduced levels. Funding for the program was $439.2 million in 2001 but fell to $346.5 million this year, with $310 million recommended for 2007.
- More than half the nation’s school districts receive $10,000 or less per year to fight violence and substance abuse — ‘too little to make a difference’ according to an Education Department official.