Teachers share safety ideas
During a state House Education Committee meeting last Wednesday, Pennsylvania State Education Association President Dolores McCracken shared suggestions from educators and support professionals aimed at making Pennsylvania’s public schools safe from violence.
PSEA encouraged its members to share their ideas in the aftermath of the most recent school shooting ,in Parkland, Florida. McCracken summarized them in her testimony and encouraged lawmakers to take clear and decisive action to keep students and educators safe in their schools. Find a copy of the report at www.psea.org/schoolsafety.
“No student, educator, or parent should walk through the threshold of their school and have to worry about the threat of violence,” McCracken said in her testimony. “These tragedies aren’t going to stop on their own, nor will the many more instances of violence that don’t make their way to the headlines, unless we act.”
McCracken outlined the suggestions made by PSEA members: investing in school safety grants; providing more support for student wellness and investing in school counselors, psychologists and social workers; creating crisis and threat assessment teams designed to predict and prevent violence; protecting federal funding; and allowing localized school safety planning.
Addressing the physical safety of school buildings was one of the most common suggestions PSEA members submitted, McCracken said. She called for increased appropriations for school safety grants to provide funding for physical improvements to school buildings, active shooter training programs, and school resource officers.
McCracken also called for policymakers to increase their focus on student mental health and invest in more school counselors, school psychologists, social workers, school nurses, behavioral specialists, home and school visitors, and paraprofessionals.
“PSEA respects the expertise and experience of those in our public schools, because they are on the front lines, are the first responders, and are those closest to students who may become adrift,” McCracken said. “So, I asked what they thought we should do to make our schools safe.
“PSEA remains committed to working with Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers to find ways to ensure that the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is not repeated, anywhere.”
McCracken is a paraprofessional in the Council Rock School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 181,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.