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‘There is only one measure of our collective work on school violence. It stops.’

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  • "What is our story, North Carolina? What is our story on the issue of gun violence in our schools, on the safety of our students?"
  • EdNC CEO and editor-in-chief @Mebane-Rash reflects on the school shooting in Uvalde and asks how we can make our schools safe spaces for students and educators.

On May 24, on one of the final days of the school year, at least 21 people were shot and killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the vast majority of them children.

Families and communities are grieving. I ask for your love and support of all of our students and educators who have to summon the courage to go back to school today.

The reactions from national and state leaders were strong. President Joe Biden said the students killed on Monday were “Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened see their friends die as if they’re on a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives…

As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?  When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?…

I am sick and tired of it.  We have to act.  And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.”

This act of violence is devastating, but it is not uncommon. The shooting in Uvalde marked the 27th this year, according to a tracker from Education Week. In the last few years, North Carolina has seen several high-profile shootings at its schools and universities.

In 2018, following the shooting at Butler High School in Matthews, the school held a vigil for the victim.

The pastor at the vigil said, “We will tell a story as a school, as a community, as a city that will inspire people to believe in greater.”

What is our story, North Carolina? What is our story on the issue of gun violence in our schools, on the safety of our students? What is our greater?

I hope this is a day of change. I hope never to attend another vigil for a student lost to gun violence on school property in my state or any other state.

Yesterday we prayed and called out the name of our lost students as a marker of love and life.

Today we continue to try and build a better world.

Help me figure out what that looks like. It does not look like yesterday.

And following last fall’s shootings at New Hanover High School in Wilmington and Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem:

Many worked hard to keep this from happening again. There was a report by the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission Special Committee on School Shootings. There was a House Select Committee on School Safety. There was a Summit on Student Safety and Wellbeing. There is a Center for Safer Schools and Say Something at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

There is a whole generation of students growing up who have never felt safe in our learning environments. Even our young EdNC team members grew up with lockdowns and code 400s framing their experience of school. Twenty years after Columbine, our inability to tackle this complex public policy problem lies in part with the reality that policymakers for the most part have… the experience of feeling like our classrooms and our schools are safe places.

Please help us figure out the next steps in working together to end violence at our schools. Help us figure out how to make them the safe spaces they should and need to be, the safe spaces our students and educators deserve. You can reach us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also tell us your thoughts on our “Contact Us” form.

There is only one measure of our collective work on school violence. It stops.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Health‘s hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.