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Statement of American Federation of Teachers, Florida Education Association and National Education Association on Trayvon Martin

WASHINGTON - March 27, 2012 -

Our deepest condolences go out to Trayvon Martin’s parents and loved ones. No parent should have to bury a child. It is a loss beyond imagining, and though we share in the outrage over Trayvon’s death, the pain of his loss lies most deeply with those who loved him and knew him.

However, some tragedies belong to all of us. When children grow up knowing their race sets them apart for special scrutiny, and separate and unequal treatment, that tragedy belongs to all of us. When laws like “stand your ground” make individuals arbiters of guilt and relegate the judicial system to the role of a mere bystander, that tragedy belongs to all of us.

In the short term, finding answers about Trayvon Martin’s death – which occurred four weeks ago -- must not be further delayed. We urge state and local law enforcement officials to move quickly and comprehensively to get at the ‘truth’ about the shooting. The Martin family and the community must begin healing, and further delays in the criminal justice process will only serve to deepen the wounds that already exist.

Long-term, as educators, parents, neighbors, and community and elected leaders, we have responsibility to all our children to ensure their safety and to teach them the importance of respecting one another. As caring adults and trained professionals, we must help cope with this tragedy and the issues Trayvon’s death has raised. When we fail to come together as communities committed to ensuring all our children grow up knowing their individual worth “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” that failure belongs to all of us.

Together, we mourn Trayvon’s loss, we join in calling for answers and for justice, and we hope for a day when all people can go about innocent, everyday activities without fear.

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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACTS: Marcus Mrowka, AFT, (202) 879-4447,
                               Jacqui Sisto, FEA, (850) 201-2800, 
                               Andy Linebaugh, NEA, (202) 822-7823,