Marching for School Safety
Thousands of Americans rallied from coast to coast to demand lawmakers take action to make our nation’s schools safer during the March for Our Lives held Saturday, March 24, in response to last month’s shooting at a Florida high school. Student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting led the protests emphasizing the importance of school safety for all communities across the nation. Among the massive group of activists in Washington, DC, were several staff members from AACTE.
“As someone who was personally affected by a school shooting, I thought it was important to lend my voice to the brave students who have created this movement,” said Christine Tambini, AACTE’s manager of meetings and events, who was a student at Virginia Tech during the shooting there 11 years ago. “I marched for the 32 lives lost on April 16, 2007.”
“I went to the March for Our Lives to support the incredible young people who are standing up for their right to safely go to school,” said Sara Hiller, AACTE’s program manager for performance assessments. “We need to make school and other public spaces safe again, and this was the start of a movement that could bring about that change.”
“I went to the march for multiple reasons. I have a nephew in high school and a nephew who will be starting preschool soon, so I went in support of them as well as the countless students who should be able to go to school without fearing for their lives,” said Erisel Cruz, AACTE’s web/media manager. “I also went because I now work in education, and I think anyone who touches the field, however big or small, should be a part of this movement.”
The student activists along with all of the marchers remind us of the importance of engaging and making our voices heard on not only the issue of school safety, but on other issues challenging education today. In the coming weeks, AACTE will roll out its own initiative on school safety to continue its advocacy for preserving the sanctity of the classroom. More details on how to get involved are coming soon.
“I am proud to say the AACTE national office team, our members, and our collaborative partners stand ready as a collective voice to effect educational and social change,” said AACTE President/CEO Lynn M. Gangone, who also participated in the march and shared her experience in this short video.
“I attended the March because I have always marched – for women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and because marching in peaceful protest is my right as a citizen,” Gangone said. “I marched because I have great hope that this generation of students, with their activism and resiliency, will persist in their pursuit of a nation free from fear of assault in the classroom and beyond. I marched because it’s my duty as a citizen to protect and defend our democracy.”
AACTE offers Federal Update webinars each month to keep members informed of what is unfolding at the federal level for educator preparation – and actions to take. In addition, anyone can sign up for the AACTE Action Alerts, which provide an easy way to advocate for educator preparation with your members of Congress. These ongoing efforts along with the activism that took place this weekend for safe environments in schools illustrate the power of collective voices to catalyze change.
“Kudos to all the educators out there, because if those kids [organizing the protests] are evidence of your good work, we really are in good hands,” said Gangone.