Following the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, many individuals have taken to social media and other outlets to call for students and staff to participate in a number of school walkouts. Organizers of these events state that the walkouts are in protest of the lack of federal legislation to keep schools and communities safe from gun violence. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, many of our students have expressed fear following recent events, and our families rightfully have concerns.
It is possible that our students will participate in scheduled walkouts and other demonstrations may occur as the local and national conversations evolve on this issue. It is my hope and intent that these include efforts to address a wholistic approach that includes discussions about the effect of bullying and marginalization of students with social-emotional needs. We can and must to better in reaching all students.
Our District vision statement underscores the role that our students have in effecting positive change. It is our responsibility to support our students as they grapple with the recent senseless violence. While heartbreaking, this is an opportunity for us to provide emotional support as well as guidance on how students can be civically engaged and politically aware through an educational lens.
We plan to communicate with student leaders to ensure that both students’ freedom of speech and safety are given highest priorities. It is important for us to show our students that they have an important role to play in our democratic process and that their voices matter as long as they exercise their rights in a safe and constructive way. We also want them to consider the positive impact they can have by widening their circle of friends to include those who might feel isolated from the wider social network.
I am sure that we will be faced will other challenges and opportunities in the future. I invite you to join us in this effort by having ongoing discussions with your children to support them in becoming resourceful, resilient, responsible and engaged world citizens. We aim to provide space in our schools and classrooms for students to discuss these issues and the important role that they have in determining how we move forward as a community and as a nation.
Superintendent of Schools
Pleasanton Unified School District