Last week, Agudath Israel of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America commended President Obama’s plan for new measures to reduce gun violence and increase school safety in the United States, in the wake of the tragic events in December in Newtown, CT.
Among the proposals in the new initiative, the federal government would help cover the cost of 1,000 new “School Resource Officers.” The program will provide federal funding to local police departments to hire the new personnel. Police departments will then partner with local schools to place the new officers with the students who need them most.
The Orthodox Union has been informed by The White House that the funding proposal may be used to place the new officers in Jewish and other nonpublic schools to provide security, counseling, and safety education.
Nathan Diament, the Union’s executive director for public policy, commended the president’s proposal, stating:
“The Orthodox Union supports common sense measures to reduce gun violence — including banning certain sophisticated attack weapons. The Orthodox Union also strongly stands for the principle that safety and security measures for schools must protect all schools and all children from harm — whether they attend public, private or parochial schools. We commend President Obama for proposing a plan that contains this fundamental principle of fairness. We will work with the Administration and Congress – as well as Governors and state legislatures — to ensure this principle applies to any school safety efforts.
Rabbi Abba Cohen, Vice-President for Federal Government Affairs, Washington Director, and Counsel of Agudath Israel of America in a statement to Hamodia, concurred. “Agudath Israel is gratified that the Obama Administration’s provisions on school safety embody the thrust of what we have long advocated and had presented to the Vice President’s working group, including increased federal support for anti-violence measures in our nation’s schools. The plan represents a step in the right direction, and, as this effort goes forward, we will work with the Administration and Congress to build on this plan and to provide significant funding for a variety of effective school safety approaches appropriate for the needs of each school.
“We are also pleased that the Administration has sent encouraging signals in regard to another Agudath Israel priority — that of “equitable treatment” of all schools, including private and religious schools — in some aspects of its school safety proposals. We continue to seek clarification on, and advocate for, such equity on all components of the plan. Most importantly, we will work to ensure that the inclusion of private and religious schools will be written into law and implemented on the state and local levels in a manner that truly achieves meaningful equity.”