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Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer Supports President Trump’s Bid to Arm School Teachers: ‘That’s Where the Students Are, That’s Where the Security Issue Is Immediately’

By Steve Snyder | February 23, 2018

Gov. Jeff Colyer (R-KS), left, speaks with Mike Allen, Axios co-founder and executive editor, during "Raising the Bar: A Conversation on Education in America." The event Friday in Washington, D.C., featured three governors from across the political spectrum in a conversation about schools and state-level education policy. (Photo credit: Emmeline Zhao)

This morning, The 74 partnered with Axios and the Walton Family Foundation to organize a special #EDlection2018 conversation in Washington, D.C. Here’s our recap of how the event trended on Twitter; we’ll be publishing several videos, audio interviews, and recaps in the days to come.

Axios executive editor Mike Allen sat down with three governors from across the country to talk about state-level education issues: Govs. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Roy Cooper (D-NC), and Jeff Colyer (R-KS).

One of the day’s earliest headlines came from Colyer’s response to the biggest news story of the week: reactions to the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 14 students and three teachers.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s idea of arming teachers and incentivizing gun training for instructors by paying them bonuses, Colyer said:

“This may be a good solution … That’s where the students are, that’s where the security issue is immediately. That, though, is really a very local decision on how we see it — because different schools, they have a different setup, and different community standards. We’re exploring this right now.”

We’ll soon be posting the full interview with Colyer, a surgeon who was sworn in as governor three weeks ago after his predecessor, the controversial Sam Brownback, resigned to take a D.C. diplomatic post. Get notified when the interview goes live by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

Meanwhile, here’s the transcript of this morning’s exchange on guns and school safety:

Mike Allen: What are you hearing from teachers in Kansas about Trump’s idea to give a bonus to teachers who have guns at school?

Colyer: Kansas is looking at Kansas solutions. Much of those decisions in our state are really made on the local level, so we’re just starting to hear different communities are looking at different opportunities on how they want to approach that.

There’s a wide diversity of views, as everyone knows. In Kansas, they want to be very practical or very pragmatic. This may be a good solution.

What do you see as the potential advantages of the president’s idea of having armed teachers?

That’s where the students are, that’s where the security issue is immediately. That, though, is really a very local decision on how we see it, because different schools, they have a different setup, and different community standards. We’re exploring this right now, and you’ll start hearing a lot more about it, I think, as this discussion expands across the U.S.

So you would say potentially promising?

Yes.

Why potentially promising?

I think that’s just one good solution. There are a whole bunch of these issues. It’s not just the gun control issue, it’s not just the mental health issue, it is not just the building itself. This is a multi-point situation. And for me, it’s the tenacity of continuing to deal with this thing over years, and that’s what these problems take. It takes a multi-year approach. If there were a magic arrow for this, we’d all take that.

Follow all the updates from the #Axios360 town hall — and see our latest #EDlection2018 coverage: Sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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