We believe students deserve and communities should demand a Maryland promise that delivers safe schools.
The unthinkable has happened again and again and again. The hopeful notion we all still hold on to that “it won’t happen here” was shattered when Great Mills High School, not far from where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay, became the latest site of a school shooting on March 20. It was just a little more than a month after the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“You never know where it’s going to happen. You never know. It can happen anywhere, but this little town right here, it’s going to hurt. We’re all real close,” Great Mills parent Jamie Quade told WBAL-TV.
“We are heartbroken that gun violence in schools has now touched our community,” said Jill Morris, president of the Education Association of St. Mary’s County, shortly after the shooting.
“Simply put, it is devastating that for the students of Great Mills, their memories of school will now include this traumatic day.
“We are resolved to provide all the support and comfort we can to our colleagues and neighbors in the Great Mills community while we work together towards a day when no school community ever has to experience this type of tragedy.”
MSEA President Betty Weller issued a statement in support of the Great Mills school community: “It is far past time for gun violence in our schools to end. Students and educators deserve days filled with learning and discovery, not with fear and lockdowns.
“We are grateful to the heroic school employees and first responders who protected students, and stand ready as a union family to support the educators, students, and community of Great Mills.”
While the 2018 General Assembly has focused on short-term fixes to address school security, we are working to get those right as we also fight for strong, long-term recommendations from the Kirwan Commission that will lead to safer schools.
“We want the staffing and programs that give every student support and opportunity, and a place to excel no matter what their talent,” said MSEA President Betty Weller.
MSEA is working hard for the school funding that will help address and mitigate the student traumas that so often go unacknowledged and untreated. That means more school counselors, smaller class sizes, more student supports, and more educators trained in restorative practices.
Since the recession, we’ve seen too many school systems go in the opposite direction. As student enrollment has grown, staffing ratios haven’t kept up.School counselors and psychologists juggle caseloads two and three times the industry-recommended standards. Students aren’t getting the individual attention and support that they need. That’s not just shortchanging our students, it’s punishing them.