August 9th, 2023

by Thomas Catenacci

FIRST ON FOX: The Biden administration opened the door to reversing its ongoing crackdown on school hunting education and archery classes across the country, saying it would work with Congress to restore funding for such programs.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, the Department of Education acknowledged it had defunded school sportsmen activities that traditionally received federal dollars, and stated those programs are “enrichment opportunities.” The agency added that it would work with lawmakers to develop legislative language resolving the issue.

“The Department of Education continues to implement the law as developed by Congress,” an Education Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “The Department recognizes the limits this language may place on certain enrichment opportunities with [Elementary and Secondary Education Act] ESEA funding.”

“We are happy to provide technical assistance on legislative language to address this issue and restore allowability of ESEA funding for valuable enrichment opportunities for students, such as archery and hunter safety programs,” the spokesperson continued.

Late last month, Fox News Digital reported 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, 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.

“School hunting and archery programs are an important part of many Ohioans’ education and teach students how to be responsible hunters, gun owners, and archers,” Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told Fox News Digital in a statement. “These are exactly the types of programs the administration should be investing in — not cutting off support to.”

Brown is one of many Democrats and Republicans who have expressed concern about the administration’s interpretation of BSCA since the Fox News Digital report in July. In addition to Brown, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who was a lead sponsor of the BSCA, have pushed back.

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who were the two Republican sponsors of the BSCA, wrote a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, saying his agency was misinterpreting their legislation.

Additionally, a group of 66 House Republicans, led by GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., sent a letter of their own to Cardona last week, condemning the decision to defund school hunting and archery programs.

“This is the most recent example of a series of Far Left pushes by the Biden Administration and Education Secretary Cardona in the name of their partisan political agenda,” Stefanik told Fox News Digital.

“Despite long standing bipartisan congressional support, the Department of Education has decided to eliminate the opportunity for millions of American students to exercise their second amendment right by safely learning to use firearms and participate in recreational shooting sports,” Stefanik continued.

On Aug. 1, Reps. Mark Green, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Richard Hudson, R-N.C., introduced the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act, which would prevent the Education Department from defunding hunting and archery classes.

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.

See the full article from Fox News here.