Marietta Daily Journal

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, co-sponsored a pair of bills last week focused on education.

One bill aims to protect Pell Grant recipients whose schools are shut down or see school officials commit institutional fraud or misconduct. The other would create a federal definition for “school shooting” and direct the government to annually report on school shootings.

Pell Grants

The Pell Grant Restoration Act, or House Resolution 4298, was introduced Thursday by McBath alongside Reps. Jahana Hayes, D-Connecticut, and Mary Gay Scanlon D-Pennsylvania.

Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students based on financial need.

McBath’s office said the bill is needed because for-profit college students find themselves stuck trying to seek an education without the aid of these grants after their institutions are shut down and their eligibility is used up.

“So many of our students work hard every day to earn an education and chase after their dreams,” McBath said in a statement. “Our children should not be punished and lose their Pell Grant eligibility for the actions of fraudulent colleges. Hard-working Americans from every community deserve a fair shot at a college education.”

McBath’s office said over $30 billion in Pell Grants is distributed to over seven million students across the country every year, and ever since the collapse of two large for-profit colleges, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute in 2015 and 2016 respectively, the Department of Education has received over 240,000 applications for borrower defense. McBath said that means thousands of students in every state are potentially eligible for Pell Grant restoration.

According to McBath’s office, a companion measure was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.

School shootings

McBath put forward the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act, or House Resolution 4301, on Thursday with Rep. Hayes and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

Gun violence has been McBath’s signature issue. She first gained national prominence as spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America after her son, Jordan Davis, was murdered in 2012 in what would become known as the loud music case.

In a statement announcing the bill, she said the first step toward eliminating school shootings is to understand them.

“Any instance of gun violence in a school is unacceptable, and it is our duty to protect our nation’s children and do all we can to stop school shootings,” she said. “We can all work together to establish reporting requirements, be honest about this crisis and stand up for future generations. Our bill will measure this horrible problem so that Americans can solve it together.”

According to McBath’s office, creating a federal definition for school shootings is necessary for collecting objective data about these incidents.

It calls for the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, to publish an annual report to track the number of shootings, the number of people killed, demographics of shooters and victims, the motivation of shooters, types of firearms and ammunition used, how the firearm was acquired and more.

McBath’s office said the report would also track information on the existence or absence of safety and prevention measures at the time of the shooting, such as building designs, communication and response plans.