The Los Angeles Unified Public School District (LAUSD) is the second largest in the country, with more than 600,000 students. It receives around $4 billion annually in government funds alone. Yet in almost every core subject, a majority of students are not proficient (with a 52 percent proficiency rate, science is the only exception).

As school districts nationwide debate whether to arm teachers, LAUSD’s police force has been struggling with what to do with an armored vehicle and grenade launchers donated to them by the military, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Los Angeles Unified school police officials said Tuesday that the department will relinquish some of the military weaponry it acquired through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. The move comes as education and civil rights groups have called on the U.S. Department of Defense to halt the practice for schools.

The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation's second-largest school system, will return three grenade launchers but intends to keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through the program.

Since 1997 the military has donated $5 billion worth of surplus equipment to law enforcement agencies across the country. The police forces at school districts in eight states participate in the program.

School districts in other parts of California have acquired more standard weapons commonly used by police officers. Podiums, exercise bikes, and televisions are also examples of other equipment schools have acquired over the years through the program.

But as in everything, common sense must prevail. Students need to be safe at school, and school police units are highly trained to do that. However, if areas are so unstable their neighborhood schools start to resemble militarized zones, then citizens need to start asking why aren’t more of their hard-earned tax dollars being directed to what most people would consider core government functions, such as city-wide police and other first responders.