One of the top advocating for school facilities that are safe and maintained, or making sure that a student’s immigration status or gender identity doesn’t disrupt their ability to feel secure in our classrooms, teachers and support professionals do everything they can to make school a welcoming and safe space.
Tragically, over the past two decades, gun violence in America has made our schools and our students less safe. Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1989, more than 187,000 students have experienced a school shooting. In California alone there have been 33 school shootings since Columbine, resulting in 51 deaths and 136 injuries.
As educators, we say, “No more.” No more parents should ever have to send their child to school wondering if he or she will come home safely. No more students should grow up in fear of being shot, either on or off school grounds. And no more lawmakers should shirk their responsibility to do what it takes to keep kids safe.
The Feb. 14 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has propelled this issue back into the spotlight and kept it there, largely because of the courageous students at that school who have sparked a movement, possibly even a revolution. It’s been thrilling to watch them, and to join them, in turning this tragedy into action, and into a mass national discussion. Educators stand with those kids. Thousands of CTA members joined one of the many March for Our Lives rallies on March 24 that drew millions nationwide. Many of you also supported students in their 17-minute walkout on the one-month anniversary of the shooting.
This is a growing movement and a deeply personal one for teachers and support professionals who see gun violence as an intolerable threat to the students we care so deeply about. On April 20, the 19th anniversary of Columbine, CTA joined NEA and other groups in a National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools. We must demand that policymakers take real action to protect our students.
“ We don’t need more guns in our schools. We need the resources to do our jobs and to help at-risk kids.”
There are commonsense solutions that can help solve this problem: stricter access to guns, with better background checks; stopping the sale of weapons of war; raising the gun purchasing age; and investing in mental health programs and school counseling. These may all help prevent the next school gun tragedy. What won’t help is arming classroom teachers. We don’t need more guns in our schools. #WeSayNoMore
We need the resources to do our jobs and to help at-risk kids, and CTA members are sending powerful messages on that point.
Enough is enough. For too long policymakers have looked the other way. We must force legislators to do the right thing, or elect candidates such as Gavin Newsom, who is a strong supporter of public education and is committed to keep our schools safe.
Educators will not stand for inaction any longer, and I’m proud we’re doing all we can to make our schools safe places for every student who walks through their doors.
Eric C. Heins