CEA joined U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and other Connecticut leaders in education at a news conference calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to abandon plans that would allow the use of federal funds to...
Posts tagged ‘gun violence’
As students around the country marked the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, teachers in Connecticut sent a clear message that they, too, are pushing for stronger congressional action on gun violence in classrooms.
Representing all eight counties in Connecticut, dozens of teachers took part in a statewide relay race to the State Capitol—Running for Our Lives—to build on the momentum of a student-led movement demanding action for safer schools. Educators came from every part of the state, wearing colors they chose to represent their counties.
In the wee morning hours on Saturday, March 24, Connecticut teachers filled a bus bound for Washington, D.C., in a major show of support for students and safe schools.
Teachers from Avon, Bloomfield, Cheshire, Clinton, Cornwall, Coventry, East Hartford, Killingly, Manchester, Mansfield, Newington, Norwich, Tolland, Trumbull, and Waterbury—as well as retired educators from around the state—participated in the student-led March for Our Lives at the nation’s capital, joined by their colleagues in marches throughout Connecticut and worldwide.
“We are here to support our nation’s students in their demand for meaningful action for safe schools,” said Bridgeport teacher Mia Dimbo. “It’s time to honor the victims of school shootings by passing commonsense gun laws and providing funding for mental health services and other school resources.” Read more
Before classes started this morning, teachers and school staff in Amity, Darien, East Haddam, Marlborough, Manchester, Stamford, West Hartford, and elsewhere throughout the state gathered in their schools’ parking lots and snowy courtyards in a show of support and solidarity for communities ravaged by school gun violence.
Teachers organized the statewide early-morning Walk-Ins for School Safety as a way of reflecting on tragedies as close as Sandy Hook and as recent as Parkland—and calling on Congress to help stem the tide of gun violence. Through their walk-ins, educators lent their support for student activists, many of whom participated in mid-morning walkouts today to honor the victims of school violence and to press for change.
We will never be the same as we were before the tragedy in Newtown, Governor Dannel Malloy said this morning at a conference on reducing gun violence. “We have changed,” he said. “And I believe it is now time for our laws to do the same.”
The conference, held at Western CT State University, included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and dozens of educators, law enforcement officials, and state and local government leaders, including CEA President Sheila Cohen.
Malloy told the audience that he has today issued a gun violence prevention proposal that includes:
• Making Background Checks Universal and Comprehensive
• Banning Large Capacity Magazines
• Strengthening the Assault Weapons Ban
• Promoting Safer Gun Storage
• Improving Enforcement of Existing Laws
“We run a risk of letting this critical moment in history pass us by,” Malloy said. Read his complete proposal here.
This morning’s conference was organized by Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. They emphasized the need for action not just here in Connecticut, but on the national level.
Blumenthal said, “Connecticut can’t go it alone; we need national action. It can’t just be rhetoric.” Esty said, “There are common sense laws that we will pass. Not just in this state, but in Washington too.”
Vice President Biden, who himself lost his young daughter and his wife to a tragic traffic accident soon after being elected to the Senate, told the families of the Sandy Hook victims that he greatly admires their courage. “We owe you a debt of courage for being willing to stay in the ring,” he said. “I didn’t have the courage to do what you’re doing.”
Biden continued, saying that it’s not too much to ask politicians to show some courage too. “People write about the political risk, but it’s unacceptable not to take this on.” The audience responded with loud applause and the Vice President added, “If you’re concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children.”
“I can’t imagine how we will be judged as a society if we do nothing — what will be written of us 20 and 30 years from now if we don’t act,” Biden said.
In addition to the discussion on reducing gun violence, the conference also included a panel that addressed mental health and school safety initiatives.
Lynn McDonnell, the mother of seven-year-old Grace who died at Sandy Hook, said, “We are strengthened by the commitment of everyone here to make a change.” She continued, “We ask that our representatives look into their hearts and remember the 26 beautiful lives that we lost and pass meaningful laws to make sure that this never happens again.”
A New York Times/CBS News poll released today finds that nine out of ten Americans, including gun owners, support universal background checks for gun buyers. Strengthening background checks is one of the proposals aimed at preventing gun violence that President Barack Obama unveiled yesterday.
President Obama’s plan includes gun violence prevention measures as well as proposals to improve school safety and increase access to mental health services.
A new NEA member poll shows the majority of educators are in line with the presidential recommendations. According to the poll, 64 percent of members support stronger gun violence prevention laws, and 90 percent support strengthening background check regulations.
CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “President Obama’s proposals are an important step toward improving school safety. We need action not only to prevent gun violence, but also to improve the climate of our schools and expand mental health services. Educators and families need to be able to identify potential problems and intervene before it’s too late.”
“We continue to grieve for the Newtown community,” she continued. “As a state and a nation we need to make important changes so that we never again face a tragedy like this. Every child deserves a safe and secure learning environment.”
President Obama’s plan is based on the work of a gun violence task force led by Vice President Joe Biden.
In a letter to Vice President Biden, the National Education Association (NEA) outlined its proposal that, while including sensible gun safety recommendations, focuses on truly preventive measures. These include greater access to mental health services, plus the infrastructure, training and programs that will ensure safe learning environments for the nation’s children.
What do you think should be done to improve school safety?
The 2013 legislative session got underway today. While legislators face a number of major issues, including a looming budget crisis, all thoughts were on the horrific Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown.
During his State of the State Address Governor Dannel P. Malloy fought back tears while speaking about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took 26 innocent lives.
Malloy said we need to “do everything in our power to ensure that Connecticut never again suffers such a loss; that we take real steps to make our kids and our communities safer.”
But he added, “more guns are not the answer. Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom.”
CEA President Sheila Cohen praised the governor for his tough stand to keep guns out of schools. “As educators our duty is to provide safe and secure public schools for every child. We can’t treat our schools like prisons with armed guards on patrol, but we must take action to stop more tragedies like the one in Newtown from occurring.”
Cohen added, “We must all work toward stricter legislation to control the manufacture, distribution, and sale of guns and other deadly weapons.”
The governor praised teachers for putting the interests of their students first. “In the midst of one of the worst days in our history, we also saw the best of our state. Teachers and a therapist sacrificed their lives protecting students,” he said. He added that as children return to classrooms teachers are “providing stability and continuity that has never been so important and so needed.”
While the gun issue will be debated in Connecticut and nationally, the governor formed the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, to develop recommendations to help improve school safety, mental health services, and gun violence prevention in the state.
During his speech, Malloy also addressed the state’s new education reform initiatives and the cooperative efforts from educators to get reform done right.
“Reform could not be complete without supporting our teachers. They have dedicated their lives to our children, and for the first time in a very long time, we’re dedicating new resources for them,” said Malloy.