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Joint Letter on the Statement from National Education Organizations on Gun Violence Prevention Package in Senate

 

The undersigned Northern Virginia School Superintendents join the 17 organizations representing the full breadth of the national K-12 education community, including school superintendents, administrators, educators, school mental health providers, school staff, and parents, to call on Congress to swiftly pass legislation that will address the senseless epidemic of gun violence in this country.  

 

Schools and educators alone cannot bear the full burden of addressing the public health crisis of gun violence. The answer to stopping gun violence in our schools is not to arm our educators or to focus solely on better addressing the mental health crisis. As a nation, we must take a hard look at the various societal factors that are contributing to our high rates of gun violence and suicide and commit to meaningful action.

 

Specifically, we call on Congress to pass gun-violence prevention legislation that would: 

  • Prevent access to dangerous weapons by those deemed at risk of hurting themselves or others
  • Expand background checks for all gun purchasers
  • Increase investments for rigorous gun-violence prevention research 

 

Undoubtedly, increasing access to comprehensive mental and behavioral health services, both in communities and in schools, is of paramount importance. In the school setting, access to comprehensive mental and behavioral health services (and professionals like school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers) is a key component of a comprehensive approach to school safety. 

 

To this end, we call on Congress to provide significant and targeted funding to existing funding streams rather than create new programs. Collectively, the Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant Program, the School Based Mental Health Services Grant, and the STOP School Violence Act represent three existing funding streams that support increased access to comprehensive school mental health services and professionals, and support of evidence-based violence prevention strategies. 

 

We also urge Congress to continue its bipartisan, bicameral work to address the youth mental health crisis by building the pipeline of mental health personnel in schools, expanding access to Medicaid-reimbursable mental and behavioral health services in schools, and expanding collaboration and coordination between the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services in their work with schools and school-based providers.

 

Our students deserve to go to school and thrive in communities where they are safe. To achieve this goal, we need laws that address the gun-violence epidemic and ensure our children and educators can learn and work without constant fear for their lives.

 

Respectfully submitted:

Dr. Scott A. Ziegler, Superintendent – Loudoun County Public Schools
Dr. Phyllis Pajardo, Superintendent – Fairfax City Public Schools
Dr. Peter Noonan, Superintendent – Falls Church City Schools
Dr. David Jeck, Superintendent – Fauquier County Public Schools
Dr. LaTanya D. McDade, Superintendent – Prince William County Public Schools
Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., Superintendent – Alexandria City Schools  
Dr. Francisco Durán, Superintendent - Arlington County Public Schools
Dr. Scott S. Brabrand, Superintendent – Fairfax County Public Schools

AACTE, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
AESA, Association of Education Service Agencies
AFSA, American Federation of School Administrators
AFT, A Union of Professionals
ASB, Association of School Business Officials International
American School Counselor Association
CASE, Council for Advancement and Support of Education 
Council of the Great City Schools
Learning Forward, The Professional Learning Association
NREA, National Rural Education Association
NASP, National Association of School Psychologists
NAESP, National Association of Elementary School Principals
NASSP, National Association of Secondary School Principals
NEA, National Education Association
National PTA
School Social Work Association of America


Published June 15, 2022