On Tuesday, May 24, there was a horrific tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. In the short time since then, there have been additional mass shootings across the country involving assault-style rifles.
As educators in Texas, the event in Uvalde felt personal. That could have been our classroom, our students, our community.
The reality is our country has an epidemic of violence and the profound moral failure to address it can no longer be acceptable. LEE members seek to take an action that aligns to their personal and professional values, roles, and desired impact.
On Tuesday, June 14, over 170 LEE members gathered for a statewide conversation about protecting our kids and schools against gun violence. That moment has led our network to take action through organizing, policy, advocacy, and elected leadership.
During our time together, we heard a call to action from leaders working toward state and local policy change. We connected and learned from local organizations and members who are building a movement for change. Here is what they had to say.
A Mother and Principal’s Reflection
Celeste Barretto, Houston
“In the back of our minds, there’s this harsh reality [that] no amount of love and promises can stop a bullet. Neither can arming teachers or putting up more fences or walls, neither can single points of access, or, even as we have learned, police officers. I’m here tonight because the morning after Uvalde, I attended my son's graduation. I fought inside to maintain my focus on celebrating my son and not on the fact that he and I were trapped with 500 other kids and parents inside an unsecure school cafeteria here in Texas where anyone in the audience could have an AR-15 under their coat.
It’s time to face this harsh reality with action…I’m here tonight so that I can drop all of my children off at school every day, tell them I love them and know for sure that I’ll see them again at 4 o’clock…. Our children our counting on us to take action to keep them safe and now’s our time to show up.”
A Conversation with elected leaders
James Talarico, Texas State Representative
“This is not an education discussion. This is not a school discussion. We are not an outlier in this country on school safety. We are not an outlier in mental health issues. We are an outlier in guns and guns only…. We have to become more sophisticated as voters, as activists, and as organizers. [We must] know that what we are facing is structural.”
Staci Childs, Texas State Board of Education Member-elect
“What I do know we can do is provide comment. There needs to be a conversation around mental health in every single classroom in Texas…We cannot continue to leave it up to one or two counselors in a school”.
“I would like to see more every day people who are involved in this work really speak out to put pressure on their legislators.”
Judith Cruz, Houston ISD Board of Trustees President
“Each school is required to hire a counselor or a social worker…just thinking of the ratio of that kind of support in schools….how do we not just make that a priority, but get those positions funded and get more resources”
Ben Mackey, Dallas ISD Board of Trustees Member
“Schools aren't the ones who are going to solve the problem, but we have to do what we can and do anything in our power to keep our kids safe…. There is school board policy but also state level policy” that can influence keeping our schools safe.”
Nancy Tien, Founding Member of Dallas CORE (Community Organizing)
“The path toward sustained change will require “people all organized together practicing power, rising up, using their voices, [and] demanding that which we deserve.”
Whitney Hurwitz, Educator (Advocacy)
“Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-19...there are 5.4 million children living in homes with unsecure guns….” As parents and community
members, we can advocate for“ getting more mental health counselors in schools.”
- What do you do? What do you stand for? And why do you do it?
- What values and priorities do you want to present to community members with whom you engage?
- In dealing with conflict over controversial issues, is there some objective standard that can be used to encourage a resolution all parties could live with?
- Explore Liberatory Leadership: You can disrupt the archetype of public leadership that currently exists. Learn how to develop and apply a liberatory consciousness to dismantle systems of inequity through civic change and public leadership. LEE has a library of resources available right now to help you level up your leadership skills, get involved, and make an impact!
- Career Coaching: Do you want to make a difference through profession in policy, advocacy, or organizing? A LEE coach can help you understand what opportunities exist for your career change and connect you with a network of LEE members doing that work that interests you.
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