Conn. school shooting tragedy reinforces need for real discussions on student, employee safety

EAST LANSING, Mich., Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 — The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Steve Cook in response to today's school shooting in Connecticut and the need for greater focus on student and school employee safety:

"More than 30 times since Columbine, unconscionable acts of gun violence in American schools have either ended or forever changed the lives of students and school employees. Speaking for MEA's 150,000 members, all our condolences go out to the victims and their families, as well as the entire community of Newton, as they deal with the senseless deaths of these children and educators. 

"Regardless of what the details and facts are of today's events in Connecticut, this nation must have a real conversation about guns and the safety of our students and those who care for them.

"I am a gun owner and avid outdoorsman, but something must be done to protect our children from such acts of violence.  Entire school communities -- boards, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and students -- need to be partners in discussions to ensure our school buildings are safe and protected from these kinds of crimes, using the latest in technology and building design to secure buildings and classrooms from those who would bring harm to students, whether armed or not.

"But we need REAL solutions. Just yesterday, the Michigan Legislature passed SB 59, which allows for concealed firearms in our schools. Those who think that students and teachers will be safer with MORE guns in our schools are just plain wrong.  Thinking that teachers should carry weapons and fire on threats is a recipe for even more death -- not safety. I hope Governor Snyder understands this and vetoes SB 59, not only for the safety of our children but out of respect for those who died today in Connecticut. To sign this bill in light of this tragedy would be unfathomable."

Contact: Doug Pratt, Director of Public Affairs, 517-896-4465