Save Our Students
The murders at Columbine
High School in April 1999 have fueled a nationwide discussion. What causes
young people to resort to violence? What can schools do to prevent such
tragedies? Although the causes of youth violence are complex, there is
much that we can do to change the social climate that leads to student
alienation and disaffection and contributes to violence. As educators
we have concerns for our students health and safety. Many voices are calling
for more supervision, increased regulations, and punitive measures. We
believe that much more is called for to make schools respectful, safe
and caring places. We offer the following suggestions.
Legislators and Citizens
- Recognize and reward teaching
and parenting as highly respected and important jobs in society.
- Increase public school
funding to create smaller schools, hire more counselors, and provide
professional development for teachers that will enable them to provide
emotional support to students.
- Reduce the pressure and
anxiety that standardized tests place on students and educators by
expanding accountability measures so that test scores are not the
primary yardstick of student achievement and school effectiveness.
- Provide in-depth and ongoing
professional development to increase all educators' understanding
of race, class, and gender bias, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and disabilities.
- Support teachers in using
curriculum and teaching methods that enhance young people's inherent
curiosity and build upon their present interests.
- Set priorities so that
schools' ability to promote young people's good citizenship, honesty,
self-confidence, and compassion for others are valued as highly as
- Institutionalize regular
opportunities for educators and students to obtain emotional, as well
as intellectual, support for reducing student alienation.
Administrators and Teachers
- Take time to talk with
and listen to your colleagues and exchange emotional support for the
daily challenges you face in nurturing our youth.
- Develop caring relationships
- Organize opportunities
to engage students in discussions about how to maintain respect for
each other. Help them learn how to discourage behavior that is disrespectful
- Create a school culture
where exclusive or disrespectful behavior is not acceptable. Learn
ways to intervene effectively (without blaming and punishing) to reduce
the harassment, insults, and exclusiveness that are pervasive in many
- When crises occur, take
class time to have your students talk and write about their views.
- Expand your friendships
to include people of different genders, socio-economic class, race,
sexual orientation, interests, or with different physical disabilities.
- Learn how to not harass
or insult other students and how to interrupt racist, sexist, and
homophobic jokes, slurs, and demeaning remarks about other people.
Point it out when your friends make such remarks.
- Educate teachers and administrators
and insist that they value studentsŐ emotional well being as much
as academic learning.
- Spend time playing with
and listening to your children.
- Demonstrate respect for
others, especially your children. You are their role model.
- Give attention to your
children and listen non-judgmentally when they cry and express frustration
or fear. They are trying to heal from the hurts of painful experiences.
- Encourage communication
with your child by letting them know they can come to you with their
problems without being punished.
- Carry this message to
all involved with education and urge that the above suggestions be
Join the Campaign
This statement was prepared by the National Coalition for Equity in Education (NCEE) for the Save Our Students Ad Campaign. If you would like this statement distributed more widely send your contribution of $20 or more. Every dollar received will be used to publish this statement in major newspapers. Contributions are tax deductible. No names will be published, distributed, or sold.
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|Mail to: NCEE, P.O. Box 6473, Santa Barbara, CA 93160|
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