Manchin leads effort to protect school archery, hunter education programs

Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin(Toni Sandys/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 2:28 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WVVA) - Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is leading a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators in an effort to preserve funding for archery and hunter education courses in public schools.

The group, which also includes Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wants the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) to be used as Congress intended with funding restored for those programs.

“This pivotal piece of legislation provided resources for local, state, and federal agencies to respond to communities in crisis, provide mental health services, and build proactive safety responses to avoid future tragedies,” the senators said in urging Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to implement the act properly. “The legislation was also carefully negotiated and drafted to protect and preserve law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, and contrary to Congressional intent, the Department of Education has misinterpreted the language to exclude certain educational activities from receiving federal resources.”

The BSCA, which passed the Senate in June of 2022, amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 to prohibit these federal funds from being used to purchase dangerous weapons for school staff or to train school staff in the use of dangerous weapons, with the recognition that ESEA funds should support student achievement, educational enrichment programs and student well-being.

However, the senators said, the Department of Education has contradicted Congressional intent by issuing guidance that these funds may no longer be used to support archery, hunter safety education or other extracurricular programs.

“We understand the Department has encouraged local and state education agencies to seek alternative sources of funding for archery and hunting educational enrichment programs. This is concerning because of the important role these enrichment programs can play in students’ lives,” the Senators said. “It is our hope that the Department will rethink its latest guidance that threatens students’ access to these programs, which support pathways to professional success, community safety, and personal wellbeing.”