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Sen. Kamala Harris, Who Called Arming Teachers ‘Ridiculous,’ Launches White House Bid

By Alyson Klein — January 21, 2019 2 min read
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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who has spoken about the link between education and public safety and recently backed striking Los Angeles teachers, announced Monday that she’s joining the rapidly growing Democratic presidential field.

Harris worked for 20 years as a prosecutor in California before becoming the state’s attorney general in 2011. She was elected to the Senate in 2016. So far, she hasn’t focused much on K-12 education.

But she’s been clear that she thinks strong schools will lead to safer communities.

“There’s a connection between public education and public safety,” Harris said in an interview earlier this year on “The Breakfast Club,” a syndicated radio program. “It’s cheaper to focus on educating young people than it is on incarcerating whole communities of young people.”

And she’s called President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers “ridiculous.”

“We have many, many communities where our six- and seven-year-olds go to sleep at night listening to gun violence,” she said during her “Breakfast Club” interview. “We have enough trauma in our community that we need to deal with without expecting that our second-grader is going to now go to school and look up at the front of the class at their teacher and she’s strapping a gun. That doesn’t make any sense.”

Instead, she said, the country needs “meaningful smart gun safety laws,” including universal background checks for firearms purchases.

Harris has criticized U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ support for arming teachers under certain conditions. And more broadly, she’s called the secretary unqualified.

More recently, Harris supported striking teachers in L.A., in her home state of California.

Harris’ father is Jamaican and her mother is Indian. She chose to announce her candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in part to honor her parents.

“My parents were very active in the civil rights movement, and that’s the language I grew up hearing,” she said in making the announcement on ABC’s Goodmorning America. She said King was an aspirational leader, and she strives to be, too. “We are flawed, we are not perfect but we are a great country when we think about the principles on which we were founded.”

So who else is hoping for the Democratic nomination in 2020?

We recently profiled Democratic presidential hopefuls including Sen. Kirsten Gillabrand of New York, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. And we wrote about Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., when he declared in 2017.

Click here to see our 2020 cheat sheet of Democratic contenders.

Photo Credit: Melina Mara for the Associated Press

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