Jul 30, 2019

It’s fair to say that all of us, regardless of our politics or where we live or whether we have school-age children, want to end the violence that has gripped our schools for a generation.

We cannot abide another Columbine or Sandy Hook or Parkland. The mindless pain and suffering must and can end.

Simply saying that, though, is no longer enough. We all need to play a part. We need to join together and support efforts that go after some of the root causes that lead a student to commit the horrors we’ve seen all too often.

And here’s how we can start. We can join the National Coalition for Safe Schools. This coalition has been formed by a leading group of teachers who are dedicated to finding ways to make schools safe.

“To get there, we need your help,” the teachers write. “So we invite you to join us.”

That’s directed at all of us.

These teachers don’t just want fellow teachers to join the cause, although they’re vital to the solution given the work they do and the insights they can provide.

They also want students and parents and community members and business leaders. In short, they’re welcoming all Americans to this important conversation.

Conversation really is where this is starting. Talking and listening. And then acting.

The coalition has adopted a mission “to address and prevent school shootings and other extreme acts of violence by providing teacher leaders and all school employees with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to proactively keep schools safe;” and a vision of “a future where every K-12 school is a safe environment for learning and free from all acts of violence.”

The coalition’s first undertaking is a summit March 1-3 in Birmingham, Alabama, to develop a work plan. First, the teachers who have been selected to attend will develop some short-term steps they can take to promote safety and student health, including identifying what’s known as social emotional learning and mental health issues that are behind the shootings and other violence.

Longer term, the teachers’ goal is to develop some new educational policies that can be advanced in the states and at the federal level to make sure schools are safe.

National Life has joined the coalition as a founding partner of this important work. We would welcome other companies and business leaders to join the cause, to support this important work and to offer solutions and ideas.

We’re looking forward to the summit in Birmingham. We’re eager to learn what the teachers conclude needs to be done. We’re as dedicated as they are to share the work and spread the work. We hope you are, too.