Stefanik: Biden Education chief sought to defund shooting sports classes in schools; yields to outcry

21st District Congresswoman Elise Stefanik writes:

Hunting and archery are cherished traditions in Upstate New York and the North Country, where we enjoy a rich outdoor heritage especially in the Adirondacks. Our communities believe that outdoor recreation, whether it be hunting, fishing, archery, camping, or other related activities should be encouraged and cultivated from a young age.

During my time in Congress, I have visited many local schools that proudly offer hunting and archery education programs to students which provide critical life skills for students. These programs are beloved by Upstate students, teachers, and parents. According to survey data from the National Archery in the Schools Program, 40% of students said their participation in the program was a motivational factor for them to do better in the classroom.

Shockingly, President Joe Biden’s Department of Education moved to strip these popular and safe programs of their funding. This funding provides opportunities for millions of American students each year to learn safe and responsible firearm handling, lessons about recreational shooting sports, and experience outdoor recreation.

These educational programs have long enjoyed bipartisan support and have near unblemished safety records while providing the opportunity for kids to learn about the outdoors and develop useful skills.

The National Archery in the Schools Program boasts 1.3 million students, while the Hunter Education Association certifies more than 500,000 young hunters each year — supporting both stewardship of our environment and responsible firearms handling.

In response, I led a letter with nearly 70 of my colleagues to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona condemning the Department of Education’s decision and demanding a reversal of their action that would have far-reaching negative consequences. Acknowledging this intense pressure, the Department of Education issued a statement effectively admitting what they were doing was wrong and that they would work with Congress to ensure that these valuable enrichment opportunities remained in place for our students. I am proud to deliver this important result to protect these programs.

These important programs must always be protected now and in the future. That is why I am also a proud cosponsor of H.R. 5110, the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act, which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to clarify school programs “training students in archery, hunting, or other shooting sports” are eligible for funding.

I will always fight to protect the Second Amendment and will continue to lead efforts to preserve these important educational programs, which provide excellent opportunities for students to safely learn to use firearms and participate in recreational shooting sports.

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