School superintendents urge Obama to act on gun violence

Damian Dovarganes/AP - Some of the weapons collected in Wednesday's Los Angeles Gun Buyback event are showcased Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 during a news conference at the LAPD headquarters in Los Angeles.
Damian Dovarganes/AP – Weapons collected in Los Angeles Gun Buyback event are showcased last month at police headquarters.

Here is a letter that the National Superintendents Roundtable, a nonprofit organization of nearly 100 school superintendents in 30 states, just sent to President Obama in support of efforts to protect schools from gun violence. The group’s Steering Committee — which includes the superintendent of Alexandria City Public schools, Morton Sherman — decided unanimously over the holidays to issue a statement on the need to reduce gun violence in the country, and last week, every member signed a letter  insisting on meaningful action. It has been sent to Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, all members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and every governor, according to the roundtable’s executive director, James Harvey.

Dear Mr. President:

Like educators everywhere, members of the National Superintendents Roundtable, a learning community of nearly 100 school superintendents in 30 states, want to offer what solace we can to the suffering community of Newtown, Connecticut. Speaking for our membership as the Roundtable’s Steering Committee, we also support your call for meaningful action to respond to the horrific incidence of fatal gun violence in the United States.

 

As educators, we have both a professional and a personal interest in this latest school shooting. While the children, teachers, parents, and the community of Newtown were victimized in this incident, educators everywhere were traumatized. We have an obligation to speak up. If, despite
what seem to have been state-of-the-art security procedures at Sandy Hook Elementary, 20 six- and seven-year-olds could be murdered in a matter of minutes along with six adults and the gunman’s suicide, something similar is possible in any school in the nation. At a more personal
level, our friend and colleague, Janet Robinson, is superintendent of schools in Newtown, responsible, as you know, for helping heal this shattered community.

 

We agree with you that our nation is not doing enough to protect our children from gun violence. We see the effects of that failure far too frequently in our schools and on our streets. We applaud your insistence that the nation is not powerless in the face of this carnage. We support the broad outlines of what you suggested during the memorial service in Newtown — a comprehensive approach involving law enforcement, school security, mental health professionals, and parents and educators. Our nation can do better. It must do better. It cannot stand by and watch this continued slaughter of the innocents.

 

Please know that we stand ready to assist you in any way we can as you begin the difficult work ahead. Like you, we find some consolation in the thought that God has called these children home. But the task of binding up the nation’s wounds remains for all of us. That task must begin with you and members of the United States Congress, and with governors and state legislators.

Most respectfully yours,

 

Gloria J. Davis
Superintendent
Decatur Public Schools
Decatur, Illinois

 

Steven M. Ladd
Superintendent
Elk Grove Unified School District
Elk Grove, California

 

Marianne Bartley
Superintendent
Lebanon Public Schools
Lebanon, Pennsylvania

 

Yvonne Curtis
Superintendent
Forest Grove Schools
Forest Grove, Oregon

 

Mark Freeman
Superintendent
Shaker Heights Public Schools
Shaker Heights, Ohio

 

James J. Harvey
Executive Director
National Superintendents Roundtable
Seattle, Washington

 

Morton Sherman
Superintendent
Alexandria City Public Schools
Alexandria, Virginia

 

Bernard Taylor, Jr.
Superintendent
East Baton Rouge Parish Schools
East Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 

c.c.: The Vice President; Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives;
Cabinet secretaries; and Governors of the states and territories

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | January 14, 2013