Concerns about school safety and student mental health have been forefront in the minds of MEA members for several years. Educators return to these related topics again and again, in surveys, trainings, conversations, and calls for resources from leaders and policymakers.
The tragic shootings at Oxford High School and Michigan State University provided stark and emotional proof points to these discussions. And we know, too, that so many of us have been affected by student suicide, which is nothing but heart-wrenching.
The fact is every day in schools across Michigan, struggles play out that don’t make the news. Depression, anxiety and teen suicide are on the rise in young people, along with classroom outbursts that disrupt routines, interrupt learning, and threaten the well-being of students and staff alike.
As educators, ensuring the safety and health of our students and colleagues is essential to our work. Classrooms, hallways, playgrounds, busses, cafeterias and beyond must be safe spaces — and we owe our children the help they need to navigate a complex world.
This issue of the Voice highlights just a few ways in which MEA members once again are demonstrating their knowledge, commitment and resolve to be part of the solution to large societal problems.
From risk assessment and intervention, to training in de-escalation techniques, to innovative new ways to provide crucial support for individual students, our members focus on helping those who are hurting and in need.
More must change, including laws, policies and funding to provide educators large-scale tools and supports to turn around students who are struggling, acting out, or at-risk of harming themselves or others.
And we must continue to raise our voices and tell the stories that show these issues will not go away on their own and we’re willing and able to tackle them together.
In this issue and throughout this school year, we’ll highlight the work being done to keep students and educators healthy and safe — and we will keep calling for more support until every student has what they need.
In Solidarity Always,
Chandra Madafferi, MEA President
Brett Smith, Vice President
Aaron Eling, Secretary-Treasurer