Gun Violence & Our DC Schools

The Network for Public Education, a national advocacy group, is calling for a day of action and awareness about gun violence in our schools on Friday, April 20, which is the anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine high school. In that event, which occurred 19 years ago, 15 people died, most of them children.

The group is asking for everyone in our country’s schools to wear orange on April 20, to highlight the need for action to prevent any further gun violence in our schools. The group also has a survey on school gun violence for school parents, teachers, and students, which you can take here.

All this is very real to me, as a DCPS parent.

Last night, for instance, during the PTA meeting at my daughter’s school, administrators spent the better part of an hour outlining to parents and teachers a number of actions they have taken to ensure that they and the children entrusted to them are safe in an emergency–including, heartbreakingly, reassuring children as young as 3 years old while huddled in a closet practicing active shooter drills.

Where does the trauma of terrible violations of our children’s lives and liberty end?

To be sure, it’s not just my school:

On February 13, during the council’s education committee performance oversight hearing for the (now resigned) deputy mayor for education, a DCPS parent broke down (see the video, at minute 35) while testifying that her school has no door locks on classroom doors to stop an active shooter.

The next day, on February 14, an active shooter in Florida killed almost 20 people in a public school.

That Florida event put the count of 2018 shootings at U.S. schools to something in the double digits–the number of 18, from a gun control group, being disputed by a Post article, in which the writers pointed out that not all those 18 shootings occurred when kids were in the schools while bullets were flying.

Perhaps the writers missed the trauma of bullet holes in school walls and playgrounds, which have been occurring here in DC for decades. Perhaps they do not know how some of our children have to navigate safe passage to school every day, twice a day, for years.

Certainly, the writers were not at my PTA meeting last night as one of the administrators painfully talked about the extensive training DCPS provided teachers and administrators on school shootings, including watching footage of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

That 2012 shooting killed 26 people, most of them very young children.

All that trauma has been here for a very long time for all of us in all our schools, whenever bullets fly near children and the places where they live and play. And it just keeps going.

Just a week after the Florida school shooting, during the performance oversight hearing for DCPS on February 21, when another DCPS parent testified about the lack of door locks at her school, council member David Grosso replied (see the video, at 3:42:57) that “I’d be happy to come out and put locks on the doors at your school. It’s really not that hard.”

To which I can only reply that is very, very hard–to get people in power to listen as our children sit huddled in closets for active shooter drills, as teachers and administrators practice drills and maintain strong hearts in good faith, all the while knowing that they may have no control whatsoever to protect the children put in their charge.

So take the survey. Wear orange on April 20. Protect our schools. Save our kids.

One thought on “Gun Violence & Our DC Schools

  1. When pointing out during council testimony that our school doesn’t have doors or even walls around our classrooms, and was therefore susceptible to a shooter like that, Grosso just looked at me funny. Like I was making up nonsense. Our school renovation actually got delayed that year.

    I don’t think he got the message.


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