NEA Reacts to School Shooting in Connecticut

On Friday, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and opened fire on students and staff, killing at least 26. It is the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. The shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 resulted in the deaths of 32.

“We join the Newtown community and our entire nation in mourning the deaths of innocent children and educators due to violence,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “As members of the education community, we extend our deepest sympathies to members of the AFTCT who have lost friends and colleagues.  We are deeply concerned for everyone in the Newtown community and will work with the AFTCT and the Connecticut Education Association in the hours and days ahead to help them in any way we can to cope with this tragedy.”

In a statement, Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen said “Our hearts and thoughts go out to the entire community, and we have been in communication with the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, which represents the teachers in Newtown. We are committed to helping the students, teachers, and administrators in Newtown as they recover from this tragedy.”

NEA has a number of valuable resources available online to help students, schools, and communities recover from crisis events.

NEA Health Information Network’s School Crisis Resources

School Crisis Guide

Lessons on Loss: How a school community heals after a student dies (NEA Today)

Photo: Associated Press video screenshot

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  • As a teacher, I was horrified by the events that took place in Connecticut! What can we do to keep our kids safe?

    “I Cried for Connecticut”

  • Martha Becker

    I have taught 38 years, so this comment is not written lightly. A long time ago, I was one of many who marched in Kentucky to demand insurance change. It worked! I TRULY feel that we teachers and school staff should march and be heard about this event. These horrible acts, such as happened in Sandy Hook, happen to us and to our children that we love and protect! We have many voices. We have power to change this, and this is the perfect time to be heard! The whole nation is mourning and mad. Let’s pick a day, close schools, and make a statement about this. Let’s march in Washington as a group. Let’s finally stand up and make a difference. Teachers protected children, dying. We owe them this. Please, someone write me back.

  • Monica

    Please, NEA. YOU are the group that can lead the nation is properly dealing with the issue of school safety – starting with systematic identification of mentally ill students – AND recent GRADUATES. It is being documented more and more that it is men ages 18-20, who can explode into severe schizophrenia – causing actions of great harm to so many. You know what teachers are seeing. Parents know which kids ‘seem’ like the kids who might go in this direction. Please, for the sake of our nation’s children, use your power, your reach, and your authority to put in place a proactive helpful process to prevent the young people who clearly need mental intervention, to keep our teachers, children, and community safe. YOU have the people who have the knowledge and access in your hands. Please help us. Read this article:

  • John

    There should be a campaign by NEA to stop school violence. There should be a day or a week built in each school’s calendar to address community, school safety, anti-bullying, and helping each student.

  • Monica

    I think there needs to be more than a campaign, but direct policy and restructuring of how mentally ill are treated – or brushed under the rug, until after a horrific episode occurs. Every child received hearing tests, vision test… spelling test. There must be a way to systematically collect the necessary data to determine which kids might lean toward mental illness, then properly help and manage that person – rather than letting a parent who will have no experience, receive a prescription and let everyone hope for the best. Federal level policy must tackle this. And our teachers in school administrators are the ones to identify the kids in need.

  • mary massic

    As a country we try to wrap our brains around such a horrific act and
    we dont have answers just meandering thoughts and frustration. As
    educators, we have always known that safety of our children is our
    first priority. However, do our legislators only care about tests?
    Great example is NCLB. Its’ main concern is tests, how we measure
    schools. TEST SCORES! No Child Left Behind provides no provisions
    for school safety. In fact it has a provision titled “Safe Harbor” and
    it is a provision in No Child Left Behind intended for schools and
    districts that are making progress in student achievement but are not
    yet meeting target goals for Adequate Yearly Progress(AYP). It is
    designed to prevent the over-identification of schools not making
    AYP. When schools don’t meet the scores, they are marked as failures
    even though hundreds of variables affect scores.Teachers spend
    thousands of dollars, endless time preparing for their career. Then
    once they have their job – that one they have dreamed about, they
    literally camp out in their classrooms preparing the class for the
    students during summers, before and after school, and weekends
    and all this preparation for their students social, emotional,
    academic, and
    physical life. Teachers should be held in high esteem for all they do.
    So I wonder– when will the media call teachers heroes? You may thorn us
    but you will never beat us. Our children our first priority always!

  • Brian

    I am a teacher. I am disgusted, disgruntled, sad, numb, outraged, and feeling helpless. However, I read an article yesterday about the power that we teachers hold in our hands right now. If teachers joined together and created an organized strike from our classrooms, not for more money, but for safety issues, we could create a change. Imagine the whole country from coast to coast, organizing and forming a NATIONAL walk out asking our country to make changes or we will not return to the classroom. There is strength in numbers. We could create the change that this country desperately needs, or at minimum begin the process quicker than sitting back and waiting for the next “tipping point” to happen. How can we make this happen? Mr. Dennis Van Roekel, President of the NEA, it seems to me that you are the starting point. Could we organize and make this happen throughout Christmas break, for the sake of our country, our children, and our lives?

  • Cherene Mills

    So, I see the main focus regarding the shooter is his mental condition. I agree that we need to protect our students, but the mental condition of all of us is being pushed to the limits. Excessive budget cuts, loss of jobs, homes and respect add to the already extreme stress of everyone’s lives. Yes, helping mentally challenged people be successful is important, but I see a great need to help all the poor and middle class improve their own status so that they don’t reach a point where they feel the need to lash out against the inequity and lack of opportunity that our society is perpetuating upon them.

  • Stan Holmes

    Will NEA stand against the gun lobby [spelled N.R.A.] that facilitated the massacre in Newtown and so many previous acts of terrorism against children? Already, pro-gun forces are stepping up their inane propaganda and digging in to thwart the President’s efforts to achieve a more sensible gun control regime in this country. Where will NEA weigh into the larger debate on a nation awash with guns?

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