“What the hell is it going to take to stop this!”
Those were the words of Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz on the steps of the State Capitol today, where CEA leaders joined Governor Ned Lamont, U.S. Representatives Jahana Hayes and John Larson, Newtown teachers, Sandy Hook parents, and others in calling on Congress to pass commonsense gun laws in the wake of a school shooting that left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead in Uvalde, Texas.
“Unfortunately, Connecticut understands all too well the gun violence that has claimed these innocent lives,” said CEA President Kate Dias. “The grief and trauma dealt to the families at Robb Elementary School will leave deep scars, and we say enough is enough.”
Reliving a nightmare
Mary Ann Jacob was working in Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School library on the day of the infamous shooting that claimed the lives of dozens of children and educators nearly ten years ago. The news of yesterday’s mass shooting brought her back to the day gunfire broke out at her school. She recalled huddling in a closet with her students and described the horror she experienced and her efforts to be brave for her students.
“Once again, gun violence has forced its way into our schools,” Jacob said. “How can we still be having the same conversation about access to guns ten years after 20 six-year olds and six of my colleagues were gunned down in Sandy Hook? Join me in demanding more from our lawmakers than empty thoughts and prayers.”
“I am just completely broken,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. “While shootings are happening more and more frequently, it’s different when it’s in schools. It’s different when it’s children.”
“Just as we did in Newtown, we are hearing stories of Uvalde educators putting themselves between a gunman’s bullets and their students,” said CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey. “No educator should ever be in that position. No parent should have to worry about whether their child will come home from school. No child should have to be afraid to walk into a classroom. We should not accept that schools are battlefields.”
Calling Out Congress
The school shooting in Uvalde is the second deadliest in U.S. history, following the massacre at Sandy Hook.
“The fact that nearly 10 years later another community is experiencing the same immense loss Connecticut suffered in Sandy Hook is just unfathomable,” said DeLancey. “Our state lawmakers had the political strength and willpower to strengthen Connecticut’s guns laws. Recently, we made historic investments in mental health. Congress must do the same.”
“Connecticut teachers have been instrumental in pushing for safe schools, mental health resources, and more,” said Dias. “Our state lawmakers have heard us loud and clear. But this is a national problem that requires a national solution. We heard Senator Chris Murphy’s impassioned pleas to his colleagues yesterday. We know that Connecticut’s entire Congressional delegation has our backs. Now we need everyone across the country on board.”
“We need the federal government to look and see what we worked on in Connecticut and elsewhere, and that can make a difference,” said the governor. “We can’t do it alone.”
The last 24 hours have been heartwrenching for every educator. We know you are struggling at the same time you are trying to help your own students cope. Here are some simple approaches for ensuring your students feel safe, heard, and reassured.