AACTE Urges Congress and Local Leaders to Protect Students and Educators in our Schools
On behalf of AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education), President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement after the most recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which at least 19 students and two teachers were murdered.
“Our nation has experienced yet another senseless act of violence in our schools. By one estimate, since 1999, at least 554 children, educators, and school staff have been victims of school shootings and 311,000 children have been exposed to gun violence at school. This is simply unacceptable. It is long past time for policymakers to take action to protect our students, educators, and school staff from such violence. We can and must do more.
What is clear is that no progress has been made toward keeping guns, especially semi-automatic weapons, out of the hands of those that seek to cause devastation. As a result, more children and their teachers are murdered. This must stop. We implore Congress to pass sensible, life-saving, gun-reform legislation, which the vast majority of the American public overwhelmingly supports.
Simultaneously, there must be a collaborative and unified effort by local, state, and federal lawmakers to invest in school mental health professionals, including school counselors, school psychologists, social workers and others, to aid students and families in schools and communities across the country. Such investments in mental health personnel are critical to achieving the goal of creating safe and productive learning environments.
Furthermore, AACTE calls upon districts to adopt and integrate mental health programming, including social-emotional learning practices, trauma-informed education, and whole child initiatives. Addressing the trauma from recent shootings, which currently permeates the core of each learning environment for every student and educator, is our nation’s responsibility. Now is the time to invest in mental health professionals and evidence-based, social-emotional learning curriculum to safely navigate the tide of grief and indelible sorrow to come.
AACTE urges Congress to protect students and educators in our schools through sensible, life-saving, gun reform legislation. Further, AACTE encourages states to engage K-12 and higher education, law enforcement, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations in a cross-sector effort to identify comprehensive solutions to maintain safe and supportive schools. There must be a collaborative and unified effort to develop solutions that will positively address school violence, particularly in the absence of sensible, life-saving gun reform.
AACTE also notes the statements made by its sister organizations, the American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education, among others. Educators are clear—the classroom is a place of learning, not a place of fear and violence. Enough is enough.”