Here is a memo that national education reformer Michelle Rhee wrote to the staff of her advocacy organization, StudentsFirst, in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. In the memo she refers to Senate Bill 59 in Michigan, which would have allowed concealed weapons on school grounds, but Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed it on Tuesday.
TO: SF Staff
DATE: December 18, 2012
RE: Gun Control Laws
As an education reform organization, we try hard to remain singularly focused on those issues that directly affect student achievement, and to abstain from broader policy debates and political discussions that are outside our mission.
It is for that reason we did not take a position on measures like the one on the governor’s desk in Michigan that would allow guns in schools. There are organizations whose sole mission is to fight gun violence, and which are far better equipped than we to engage on these bills.
However, like many of you, I continue to be disturbed by the violence that took place last week in Newtown, Connecticut. I am disturbed by the dozens of shootings that have taken place in recent years at schools across the country.
It should go without saying that guns have no place in schools. Schools must be safe havens for teaching and learning — that is a basic obligation to children that comes before anything else.
Accordingly, I have come to the conclusion that StudentsFirst must publicly oppose legislation that would bring firearms into schools, anywhere. That includes opposing SB 59 in Michigan. We urge our members to voice their opposition as well. While gun control issues fall outside our direct policy agenda, I have absolutely no reluctance taking this position. I am convinced that allowing firearms in schools cannot help advance student achievement or put the interests of students first.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is right when he says that our nation’s leaders must not let this moment pass without taking strong action.
If you have any questions about our position or our thinking in taking this position please don’t hesitate to contact Eric Lerum or myself.