Regarding the latest school shooting and taking a stand for student and educator safety

Dear MEA Family,

There aren’t words to convey adequate emotions – heartbreak, rage, fear, frustration – after yesterday’s senseless shooting deaths of 19 children and 2 teachers in a Texas elementary school. After what happened just six months ago in Oxford, yesterday’s events are resurfacing many of the same feelings for all of us — especially the anger that this keeps happening to young people and the educators committed to them.

I know all our hearts go out to the victims, the families and the community of Uvalde, Texas. I know that our members who’ve been affected by violence, especially those in Oxford, are committed to helping our colleagues there however we can.

But somehow, our efforts never seem to be enough, because this keeps happening over and over and over again.  As U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy so passionately asked his colleagues on the Senate floor yesterday, “What are we doing?” As NEA President Becky Pringle said in a letter to Congress this morning, “What are you waiting for?”

Just this morning, Democrats in the State Senate tried to force action on safe storage legislation for firearms (as prompted by the Oxford tragedy and Everytown for Gun Safety’s BE SMART framework).  Those actions were blocked by the Republican majority who argued that (per Gongwer News Service) “now is the time for grief and not politicizing the matter.”

The fact is we can grieve and act.  We must, because our students deserve no less than common-sense gun safety reform and mental health support.

In the wake of the Oxford tragedy, we’ve been focused on supporting our members in Oxford, including providing mental health counseling in the shooting’s aftermath, legal support for members named in lawsuits, and lobbying to get the resources Oxford’s students, educators and community need to move forward and heal.

We must do more – because this clearly doesn’t end at the walls of Oxford High School.  Or Columbine.  Or Sandy Hook.  Or Stoneman Douglas.  Or Virginia Tech.  Or now Robb Elementary.

In solidarity and in love,

Paula Herbart
MEA President


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