Earlier this week we watched with great concern reports showing that a threat of gun violence at a California public school was averted through the heroic efforts of security officers and others. This incident follows in the aftermath of the tragic deaths that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida earlier this month. The senseless deaths that have happened as a result of gun violence in our nation’s schools have led to a new moment of inspired student activism which is changing the dialogue about the actions we can and should be taking to protect our kids and giving new hope that, after years of senseless killings, new solutions may finally be possible.
I write you today as a father who has two adolescent kids enrolled in public schools. I also write as a former educator who remembers well the incidents of gun violence that had tragic impact on the school communities where I used to work. And I write in my current role as one who understands deeply that, above all else, our public schools must first be able to ensure that all our precious, precious students will be unquestionably safe and well cared for every moment they spend in school.
There is no message that any responsible caring person can offer at this moment other than to insist that this simply has to stop. We can no longer tolerate a situation where it is possible that even more kids and school staff will be caught up in the unconscionable violence we have seen occur at Douglas, at Sandy Hook, at Columbine and at many other schools. And we can no longer tolerate a circumstance where students and families must spend their lives fearing that their school is a place where this kind of tragedy could occur.
In the end, the solution to the problem of gun violence in our schools is effective advocacy – summoning the collective strength needed to push through the common sense reforms that will make tragedies like the one that occurred at Douglas a thing of the past. In Connecticut, in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook in 2012, people of conviction and courage were able to pass sensible gun laws which serve as a model for how more sensible policies can be put in place across our entire nation. Among the many things that the charter school movement has grown good at over the years is summoning the collective advocacy strength needed to make sure that common sense solutions serving the interests of all kids are finally embraced by policy makers. As such, it only makes sense that at this moment of broader societal need, the charter school movement stands ready to do its part.
In the many conversations that I have had with charter school stakeholders on this topic in recent days, I have heard repeatedly how our community is passionately committed to helping advance policy changes that will protect all kids. And we stand in humbled amazement at the great passionate zeal that has been unleashed within our students to drive for change, and we are committed to coaching our students to direct their activism in the most constructive way possible.
As you are no doubt aware, youth across the nation are already planning a March for Our Lives in Washington DC on March 24th, and we anticipate many other marches and demonstrations happening in locations across California in the weeks to come. As part of our commitment to support our members and help our broader movement play the role that is demanded of us at this moment, we at CCSA pledge to stay abreast of opportunities for school communities to take action in support of policy changes that will ensure the safety of our schools, and we will let the charter school community know when moments arise where our collective voice needs to be heard.
We also pledge to make available resources to school communities that may be grappling with the many vexing challenges that are arising as a result of the violence that has occurred in our nation’s public schools. I encourage any charter school stakeholder to please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if there is any resource that we may be able to provide your school during this critically important time.
Finally, I want every member to know that CCSA is committed to taking every action within our capacity to help ensure that all of California’s kids are safe. If you are aware of any step that we might take here at the Association to help address the safety needs of our kids and our schools, I encourage you please to reach out to me directly or to any staff member at CCSA with your thoughts and ideas. Together, inspired by the moving efforts being made by our nation’s youth to end the scourge of gun violence in our schools, I know that we will help advance the common sense solutions that will ultimately keep our kids safe.
For all of you who continue to do all you can to support and keep safe California’s public school students, I again salute your efforts and offer you our deepest, deepest thanks,
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association