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AACTE Supports School Safety Advocacy, Calls for Stories From Ed Prep Programs

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As educators, students, and activists across the country gear up for another demonstration this month to fight against school violence, AACTE is sharing resources and collecting member stories related to both advocacy and educator preparation for school safety.

Student activists are recruiting high school youth nationwide to participate in the National High School Student Walkout Day on April 20, which marks the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School. While most high school students are too young to vote, they intend to make their voice heard by sending a strong message to politicians that the time to act to prevent school violence is now. According to change.org, school students may participate by walking out of school, wearing orange, and protesting in their local communities and online using #nationalschoolwalkout.

Three national education organizations have also named April 20 National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools to encourage not just students but all people to take their own action to bring attention to school safety. The Network for Public Education (NPE) has partnered with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and others to let policy makers know #enoughisenough. The initiative promotes a variety of actions on that day and also advocates for education that will reduce gun violence in schools.

“We want to encourage people in their own communities to come up with activities that make sense to them,” said NPE Executive Director Carol Burris, according to Elite Daily.

Are you looking for ways to support the April 20 protest for school safety? Here are a few suggestions by sponsors of the National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools:

  • Join an action, pledge support, register to vote, and spread the word.
  • Organize a march in your community.
  • Write and deliver letters to legislators urging them to take action to keep schools safe.
  • Encourage schools to host an assembly discussing the issue of gun violence.
  • Organize a sit-in or a walk-in with community leaders visiting your school.
  • Observe a moment of silence and a reading of the names of victims of gun violence in schools.
  • Wear orange (color of the movement) to show solidarity.

For more details, visit protectourschools.com. Additional resources for supporting student engagement in peaceful activism and national initiatives for safer classrooms are available in the AACTE Toolkit on School Safety – a compilation of resources from a variety of sources.

AACTE Call for Stories on Educator Preparation for School Safety

This month, AACTE also is launching its own national school safety initiative to engage and support members in preparing educators to preserve the sanctity of the classroom and advocate for safer schools. As part of this initiative, we are collecting stories about what programs are doing to prepare future teachers on issues of school safety before they enter the classroom. This may include preparation for preventing school violence, managing crisis situations, or related issues such as addressing students’ mental and emotional health.

We have already learned of a few member stories of engagement efforts on this topic, such as this one from AACTE Board of Directors member Michael Maher, assistant dean for professional education and accreditation at North Carolina State University.

The college of education at North Carolina State University is hosting an entire day of professional development for current student teachers called “Critical Issues in Education” on April 20. All current student teachers will report to campus rather than their student teaching placements. The student teachers will rotate through professional development sessions on topics such as active shooter training, mental and emotional health of students, sexual harassment and power dynamics, facilitating difficult conversations, and self-care for teachers. These sessions will be led by school personnel and members of our local community.

How is your school, college, or department of education preparing teacher candidates to improve school safety? Please share your story with AACTE by Thursday, May 31, by completing a brief online form at aacte.org:

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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE

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