Students Face Trauma After Shootings
It’s been a heartbreaking few weeks.
Yesterday, a shooter at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas killed at least 19 elementary-aged children and two adults. This is the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 school massacre here in Newtown, Connecticut. "We have another Sandy Hook on our hands," the Hartford Courant quotes US Senator Chris Murphy as saying during a plea for stricter gun control. "Our kids are living in fear every time they set foot in the classroom because they think they're going to be next." For those grasping for resources with which to talk about traumatic events like these with young people, Chalkbeat has compiled a list of stories it has produced in the aftermath of each school shooting over the years.
Just 10 days prior to the Uvalde attack, a white supremacist perpetrated a mass shooting in Buffalo that killed ten Black people. The New York Times' coverage paints a picture of a community that is understandably and deeply shaken by this event, which the Times calls one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent American history. Many students and families in the neighborhood worry about a repeat event, especially in racially segregated schools where Black families fear they could be targets of similar hate crimes. Sunday's ABC News has a story about the surge in mental health needs that is straining school counselors and psychologists in Buffalo. Indeed, the nation’s students have faced far too much trauma.
That’s an issue that has been significantly prioritized by the Connecticut legislature with the passage of Senate Bills 1 and 2 and House Bill 5001, all signed into law by the Governor this week. See our previous deep dive into these bills for details on how they will support children’s mental health in our state.
National School Boards Association Backpedals on Political Debate
Republicans have accused the National School Boards Association (NSBA) of colluding with the Biden administration, essentially to silence parents with dissenting political views. That’s in response to a letter the NSBA sent to the Biden administration back in September, requesting assistance from federal law enforcement. There have been many contentious school board meetings related to politicized issues like mandatory masking and critical race theory. But there have also been a great deal of violent threats against school board members nationwide. In the face of ongoing threats that the NSBA said were “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” they wanted the administration’s support. In response to the letter, the FBI was instructed to work with US attorneys across the country to discuss the threats with federal, state, and local leaders—and potentially prosecute threats against educators and district leaders.
According to coverage this weekend by the Washington Post, however, the letter shifted attention away from the aggressive threats against board members—instead becoming an issue of free speech and local control. Almost half of state school board associations have left the NSBA since the letter was sent, and the new Executive Director of the NSBA ultimately denounced the group’s letter. Nevertheless, a formal, independent review of these events, released on Friday, said it did not find either direct or indirect evidence that the Biden administration had prompted the letter.
Connecticut Embraces Asian American and Pacific Islander History
Earlier this month, Connecticut became one of the first states in the country to require K-12 public schools to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) studies. In a story by Connecticut Public Radio, Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bobby Sanchez observed that the new coursework is particularly important due to the rise of anti-Asian violence. The provision is wrapped into Senate Bill 1, which was signed by Governor Lamont on Tuesday. It has also been praised by Attorney General William Tong, who wrote in a press statement that law enforcement cannot address anti-Asian violence alone if the history of bias and hate—and of successes and contributions by Asian Americans—remain invisible. On Friday, the Washington Post covered Connecticut's new mandate as part of a national trend to "combat hate with history." The article says that both Illinois and New Jersey require such classes and that New York is considering similar legislation. But bills like these are also coming directly into conflict with simultaneous efforts by other groups to restrict curricula highlighting diversity.