FIRST ON FOX: Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is warning the Biden administration to stop holding key school funding for hunting education and archery programs “hostage.”
In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Cameron argued the administration is using American children as pawns and its decision to defund enrichment programs traditionally applicable for federal funding is based on a flawed interpretation of statute. Cameron’s letter comes after a Fox News Digital report late last month revealing the Department of Education’s new guidance to block hunting and archery class funding.
“The Department is manipulating schools and students for political purposes,” the Kentucky attorney general wrote to Cardona. “Your actions represent the latest in a long line of Biden Administration policies that prioritize the woke agenda of the extreme left over the well-being of our children.”
“The onslaught must stop,” he added.
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Cameron noted that the Education Department has also proposed using taxpayer dollars to advance Critical Race Theory ideology, instructed students and teachers to use an individual’s preferred pronouns and issued guidance allowing biological boys to compete in girls’ sports.
Additionally, he said hunting and archery courses are just the latest target of Democrats’ defunding agenda.
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“First, the extreme left wanted to defund the police. Now they want to defund our schools simply for having hunting and archery programs,” Cameron told Fox News Digital. “But shooting sports are good for our kids, teaching them valuable life skills. I’m calling on the Biden Administration to restore the resources that our students and schools deserve.”
Earlier this year, the Education Department shared federal guidance to hunting education groups highlighting that hunting and archery programs in schools would be stripped of funding. The guidance explained that the administration interpreted the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) to mean such programs can no longer receive taxpayer funds.
In the guidance, obtained first by Fox News Digital in July, senior agency official Sarah Martinez wrote that archery, hunter education and wilderness safety courses utilize weapons that are “technically dangerous weapons” and therefore “may not be funded under” the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is the primary source of federal aid for elementary and secondary education across the country.
According to advocates, many schools that offer such courses have already nixed them from curriculums due to the federal guidance.
In his letter to Cardona, Cameron said the Department of Education guidance could result in up to $1 billion being withheld from elementary and secondary schools nationwide, though the exact amount is unknown.
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“Now is not the time to play politics with their education funding. You must therefore stop withholding money from elementary and secondary schools simply because they teach hunting or archery-related curricula,” he wrote.
The BSCA — a bill that was criticized as a “gun control” bill, but touted by proponents as an effort to promote “safer, more inclusive and positive” schools — was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in June 2022 after mass shootings at a grocery market in Buffalo, New York, and a school in Uvalde, Texas.
The law included an amendment to a subsection in the ESEA listing prohibited uses for federal school funding. That amendment prohibits ESEA funds from helping provide any person with a dangerous weapon or to provide “training in the use of a dangerous weapon,” but, according to the bill’s sponsors, was included to prevent ESEA funding for school resource officer training.
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“The Department is misreading the BSCA. Section §13401 amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to say that schools cannot use ESEA funding ‘for the provision’ of dangerous weapons or for ‘training in the use of’ dangerous weapons,” Cameron stated. “Nothing in this amendment permits you to deny resources to schools with hunting or archery programs.”
“Hunting and archery programs are not training in the use of a dangerous weapon. They involve teaching students certain skills (e.g., ‘focus, self-control, discipline, [and] patience’) and curricula (e.g., ‘the history of archery’ and how ‘new technologies’ helped develop ‘organized civilizations’) that have nothing to do with the actual operation of a weapon,” he continued.
Since the Education Department’s guidance was first reported, Democrats, Republicans and hunting advocacy groups have widely condemned the decision and called for the agency to reverse it. On Wednesday, the agency said it was open to helping Congress craft language in future legislation to reverse the guidance.