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Letter to Representative Thompson Supporting his Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Recommendations

February 07, 2013

Dear Representative Thompson: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association – dedicated educators who serve and protect millions of children every day – we would like to commend the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force for releasing comprehensive recommendations to address the gun violence plaguing our nation. 

We would like to thank you for the inclusive nature of your work, and particularly your efforts to ensure that all voices were at the table to provide input.  NEA was very pleased to be able to represent educator concerns and provide recommendations to the Task Force that reflected educators’ experience and expertise.   

NEA supports the Task Force recommendation regarding school safety.  We are particularly pleased that the Task Force is recommending “an evidence-based approach to supporting a safe learning environment that is tailored to the unique needs of the students and local community.”  We believe it is critical that local districts be given the flexibility and authority to decide what sorts of supports and personnel they need to ensure the safety of their students and staff.  We also strongly agree that all school personnel must have resources and training to implement safety plans.  Finally, we are very pleased that the Task Force is recommending that safety policies “promote a positive school climate that meets both the learning and emotional needs of all students.”  Safer, more nurturing school climates that include positive student supports and anti-bullying initiatives will help students find non-violent alternatives to resolve conflicts and will allow staff to identify and address potential problems before they escalate.   

We also agree that school safety policies must be implemented in tandem with gun violence prevention measures.  A new NEA member poll indicates overwhelming support for stronger gun violence prevention laws, including background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips.  These measures will rally broad community support, especially when coupled with a greater focus on mental health and safe, secure, and supportive school environments. 

We thank the Task Force for taking on this complex issue and for presenting common-sense recommendations to address gun violence.  We, and our three million members across the nation, stand ready to work with you to keep all of our students safe.   

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations