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Statement on Gun Violence

Monday, March 12, 2018

The tragedy in Parkland has once again brought gun violence to the forefront of the American consciousness. It has led me to reflect on the role of educators in nurturing and protecting children and on the importance of education as a means of inspiring children to become thoughtful, engaged citizens of the world. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in speaking out against gun violence, have demonstrated to the adult community the courage needed to confront difficult issues. At CDS, each year our eighth grade students choose a social issue on which to focus their activism, and this year, for the second time in recent years, they chose gun control. 

I am optimistic that at long last something will be done to stem the tide of gun violence. Recently, I worked with three other heads of independent schools in California to convince the California Association of Independent Schools to develop a position against gun violence and to advocate publicly for gun control. On Sunday, we placed a full-page ad signed by over 125 heads of independent schools in California in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times. We also intend to have our statement read into the Congressional record in Sacramento and send it to our legislators in Washington. The full text of the statement is at the end of this message; please feel free to forward it on to anyone and everyone in your social networks. We are hopeful that adding our voices to the current national debate will in some small part positively influence public policy toward the adoption of sensible gun control.

Here is the statement from CAIS:

As the Board of Directors of the California Association of Independent Schools, we join our Executive Director and the undersigned colleagues from our member schools — as well as other independent, religious, and proprietary schools throughout California — in anguish over the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of this and every school shooting, and we stand in unwavering support of the survivors.

We also stand in full solidarity with concerned educators nationwide. Today, school shootings are appallingly routine. Innocent lives of flourishing young people have been cut short, and students of every age in countless communities are afraid to go to school. These students are our future leaders. They and others, with a myriad of different perspectives, are also eager to change this paradigm by navigating our democratic processes, by engaging in respectful civic discourse, and by acting as catalysts for needed change, which we heartily applaud. We need to listen to their voices and respond to their pleas to make schools safe.

As educators and as citizens, we are proud Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who believe that our country need not choose between the rightful protection of responsible gun ownership and the necessary prevention of gun violence. We believe that the epidemic of gun violence in schools is an issue of non-partisan urgency, one that demands a higher duty of care.

We recall with admiration the ability to rise above partisanship on this issue displayed by two former Presidents, Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan, both of whom owned guns. In 1994, they worked together to help reduce the number of dangerous weapons available to private citizens. Sadly, nearly 25 years after their efforts, the United States still leads the world in the number of guns per capita and accounts for an astonishing 91% of the children killed by guns around the world. Today, assault weapons in particular are used in a disproportionate number of mass shootings, many of which have targeted schools. As educators who work tirelessly to nurture and educate the next generation of Americans, we believe this is tragic.

We join as colleagues and implore our regional and national leaders to take the necessary steps to protect our students, teachers, and staff and, with profound resolve, to address the many factors that contribute to safe and secure educational communities, including responsible safeguards related to guns.

Never before have so many school leaders from all corners of this great nation, from every type of school, spoken with one voice to address a single issue. We are moved to do so on behalf of all of this nation’s children, whose welfare and safety it is our common duty to ensure.