This letter will be submitted by a group of faculty in the CEJ (Center for Educational Justice at the University of Redlands in the School of Education) to the California Department of Education in response to the recent call for several National School Walkouts. All university-based researchers (including faculty, researchers, and administrators) throughout California are invited to sign their names in support of this letter.Listed on the letter will be each signer’s Name, Title, and College/University/Affiliation.
To sign, please submit information in the form fields below the letter by March 9, 2018.
This letter was co-authored by the following faculty in the School of Education (SOE) in the Center for Educational Justice (CEJ) at the University of Redlands: Brian Charest, Ph.D., Mikela Bjork, Ph.D., and Nicol Howard, Ph.D.
Open Letter in Support of School Walkouts to Protest Gun Violence
Dear California State Board of Education President, Dr. Michael Krist, State Board Colleagues, and California School Principals, Teachers, and Administrators:
Last week, 17 students were shot and killed at a Florida high school by a former member of the school’s JROTC program. The shooter, who expressed white supremacist views online (footnotes listed parenthetically – 1), was trained to shoot lethal weapons by the Army on his high school campus (2). Teachers, students, parents, and allies have had enough. Students are standing up. Teachers and parents are supporting them.
As university and teacher educators (including faculty, researchers, and administrators), we strongly urge you to publicly support all principals, teachers, and students in our California schools and universities, who wish to participate in the upcoming National School Walkouts to protest gun violence (the first of which is scheduled for 17 minutes—one minute for each victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting on March 14).
Other walkouts are scheduled on March 24, and April 20, and additional walkouts may occur. We believe educators and students should have your support to participate in these actions. Current gun regulations do not reflect current research or knowledge on gun violence prevention, nor do they reflect public opinion on gun safety. (3)
Our schools, for better or for worse, reflect our priorities as a society and should be spaces where students and teachers discuss what those priorities should be. We believe that any discussion about solving the problem of gun violence must be a conversation about public safety and must also address root causes of this violence, such as the culture of violence in the US that equates masculinity with guns, (4) bullying in schools and on campuses, violence against women, the increase in militarism in schools that serve our most vulnerable youth (e.g, ROTC programs, military-run schools, junior police academies, etc.) (5) (6), state sanctioned violence through policing, and racism that blinds us to the effects of gun violence in poor communities of color. (7) (8)
We believe that the National School Walkouts are the first step toward a public conversation about these root causes, one that can help lead to the enactment of a public safety plan to reduce gun violence in the US. Such a plan would emerge from what we currently know about gun safety and gun violence prevention.(9) Such a plan would also align with the views of a majority of Americans (10) who believe in things like background checks for all gun buyers (93%), a ban on the sale of guns to anyone convicted of a violent crime (88%), and for waiting periods for all gun purchases (72%).
We urge you to take this moment to voice your support for public engagement in the gun safety debate and for students and teachers who seek to pressure lawmakers to enact effective gun safety legislation. Doing so would not only encourage teachers in California to teach about the power of civic engagement, but also provide an opportunity for students to see firsthand the importance of civic action in a democracy. Democracies require citizen participation, and it is through a combination of careful study and debate combined with civic action that citizens shape their world for the better.
We, the undersigned, believe in the need to address the root causes of gun violence and for new laws to promote public safety to end the epidemic of gun violence in the US; we support the right of principals, teachers, and students to participate in the National School Walkout.
#NationalSchoolWalkout #GunReformNow #StudentsStandUp #ArmMeWith
As of February 24, 2018, the following education scholars have signed in support of this open letter (Names are listed in alphabetical order):
Brian Charest, Assistant Professor, University of Redlands
Kevin Kumashiro, former Dean, University of San Francisco
Mikela Bjork, Assistant Professor, University of Redlands
Nicol Howard, Assistant Professor, University of Redlands
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