In solidarity with St. Louis Public Schools
By TIM ROWDEN
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten visited St. Louis Nov. 14 to pay her respects to the community and offer support to educators and families impacted by the Oct. 24 incident at Central Visual and Performing Arts and Collegiate High Schools.
Weingarten, who leads the 1.7-million member AFT that represents educators at the school, including one of the victims of the shooting, met in private with family members and staff from the schools impacted from the recent tragedy as well as elected officials and union leaders involved with the community and St. Louis Public Schools, including St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) Board of Education President Matt Davis, Local 420 President Ray Cummings and other district and union leaders.
“It’s heartbreaking to visit yet another school community ravaged by gun violence,” Weingarten said. “How many times does this trauma have to be inflicted on communities before there are comprehensive, commonsense gun laws everywhere? Especially since a majority of Americans support those commonsense gun reforms.
“Today, in a visit we planned right after the terrible tragedy at Central High School, we are both paying our respects and mourning the losses, but also talking about how we take action. By bringing together legislators, community leaders and educators to talk about where the holes exist in this system and how we can better provide mental health supports, basic safety measures, and other interventions, we are redoubling our efforts to make our schools and communities safe sanctuaries where students can learn and thrive.”
Weingarten and school and union officials also held a closed-door legislative roundtable discussion with elected officials including Senators Karla May (D-St. Louis City & County), Angela Mosely (D-St. Louis County), Doug Beck (D-Affton), Stephen Roberts (D-St. Louis County) and State Representatives Doug Clemens (D-St. Ann) and Peter Meredith (D-St. Louis) to discuss commonsense gun safety and mental health solutions.
Weingarten then held a listening session offering condolences and support with faculty and staff from the two impacted schools.
“Gun violence is not simply a political crisis,” Weingarten said. “It’s a moral and a public health crisis, and solving it is a question of our humanity.”
TIME FOR FINDING SOLUTIONS
Local 420 President Ray Cummings said, “We are still in mourning but it is time for us to begin the process of finding solutions. We hope this can be the start of moving towards healing, frank and productive dialogue, then action. The public will recognize the need for healing and constructive dialogue to be held in confidence.”