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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

Soon After Arming Teachers Comments, US Education Official Visits Milwaukee School

Emily Files
U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary Frank Brogan speaks with students at Reagan High School Tuesday, Sept. 11.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Frank Brogan — who recently made the news with his comments on arming teachers — visited a Milwaukee public school Tuesday. The federal education official was touring the Midwest to highlight innovation in schools.

He recognized Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School, an MPS magnet school on the south side, for its anti-bullying efforts. Its anti-bullying initiatives include a program that partners incoming freshmen with older students.

“We are there to be a bond for those freshmen and make their transition into freshman year a lot easier than some of the rest of us had,” explained senior Alanna Bielawski.

She said one goal of the program is to prevent upperclassmen from bullying or picking on younger students.  

“It’s now this whole idea of ‘hey, let me help you out there.’ Instead of, ‘let me push you down,’” Bielawski said.

Brogan congratulated the school on its mentorship program during a roundtable discussion with students, school leaders and MPS representatives. He also went beyond the topic of bullying and talked about school safety and its connection to mental health.

He referenced recent school shootings in other states. He said in many cases, people in those schools knew the suspected shooter was struggling.

“You can almost go back and check the record and find that that is a young person who has fallen between the cracks over and over and over,” Brogan said. “Many people have identified that person as someone who needs help. But nobody owned it.”

His department sparked some controversy recently on the topic of school safety – specifically whether schools should let teachers carry guns.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reportedly considering allowing schools to use federal funding for firearms.

Brogan believes the question of arming teachers should be up to local school districts.

“The issue of arming school personnel has been discussed but A) only if it is strictly voluntary and B) only if it is well-monitored, massive training and required effort,” Brogan said in response to a question from WUWM. “So, by virtue of that fact, those decisions should be left to states and local communities.”

DeVos has been education secretary for about a year and a half. She is known as an advocate for school choice programs that let kids use taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend private schools.  

Brogan is visiting mostly public schools on his tour, but said he will also stop at some private and charter schools.  

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