By now, those in school have probably started your summer breaks - unless you're a 12-month employee. Whatever your status, I hope you enjoy some time to yourself to recover, reflect, and rejuvenate.
I don't usually do this, but I feel I need to issue a trigger warning for this post. A month or so ago, I wrote about the murder of 19 4th-grade students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. I also noted that the husband of one of the teachers had visited her gravesite and had a heart attack shortly after. He died, leaving their four children orphaned.
People tend to draw together when something like this happens, especially in a small community. And this has been the case in Uvalde.
From the very beginning, the role of law enforcement has been questioned. They initially said the gunman entered through a door that had been propped open, then they said the door was closed, but the lock was faulty.
They said they were there as soon as possible but could not enter the classroom because they lacked a key. Then it was reported that the door was unlocked, and the teacher had reported that the lock didn't work. They said they were waiting for someone to come along with a key. Then we learned that no key was needed because the door wasn't locked.
In the meantime, while children were dying, the law enforcement officers stood safely in the hallway for 78 minutes. The head of the Department of Public Safety spoke and blamed the Chief of Police who has been put on leave.
I suspect we haven't heard the whole story - and what we have listened to is appalling enough.
I bring this up because just yesterday, the United States Supreme Court struck down a 100-year old law in New York about concealed carry. Their rationale was that it was against the Constitution. But when the Constitution was written, the guns were muskets that could only be loaded with a single shot, not the automatic weapons we have today.
Let me be clear: I support the Second Amendment. I am concerned with how easily the young men are able to acquire assault rifles because almost all of the school shooters of the last 20 years were young men, and were quickly able to have access to automatic weapons. Whether through gifts from parents, the encouragement of parents, or acquiring them through sales, I would be interested in exploring ways to limit the accessibility of automatic weapons.
In the meantime, my guest on my Livestream this week was Sandra Harrison, who owns DVA Leadership and Training. a consulting firm that works with youth and companies to offer various training programs with an emphasis on soft skills such as collaboration. DVA provides a wide range of services.
In her work in schools, Harrison recalls a time when there was a focus on reducing in-school suspensions; however, of late, she's noticed an increase in punishment toward Black and Brown students. She noted that Black and Brown students are often policed for disrespect or tone, which leaves both the student and their families unsure of the problem and how to fix it. She said that once students are involved with the carceral system, it's hard for their parents as communication is expensive, and having lawyers is costly.
Harrison recommends using justice circles and increased communication with young people, who she says may be alienated. She points out that putting a student who may be struggling with mental health issues into isolation is not helpful to them.
We touched briefly on School Resource Officers, where she indicated that depending on the community, having officers in uniform in schools may not be ideal. She suggested increased training for those officers to deal with students who have suffered trauma. I have met a principal who selected the SROs for her school, communicated the preferred approach and stayed in touch with them. Those SROs at that school were supportive of students, and I saw students running up to hug them and ask to be taken to in-school suspension to get out of class. I feel that with the right people, SROs can be an asset under the right circumstances, but in some cases, they are not.
I enjoyed our conversation. Give the Livestream and have a listen, and don't forget to subscribe to the channel when you get a chance. I think you'll learn from it, as I did.
Finally, the Weekend Voice will be taking a long weekend over the Fourth of July and would like to wish everyone a restful Fourth, however, you celebrate. The Voice will be back the following week.
By the way, are you interested in being a guest on the Art of Advocacy Show? Fill out this application form, and I will get back to you shortly. I'm currently scheduling the Fall lineup.
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