School Climate & Safety Opinion

Let’s Act to End School Shootings While We Still Can

The spotlight on Uvalde, Texas, will fade. Don’t let your commitment to student safety go with it
By Principal Recovery Network — June 10, 2022 2 min read
Illustration of a gun with a school and school bus resting on the barrel of the gun. Background full of speech bubbles.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

We belong to a club that shouldn’t exist.

We are members of Principal Recovery Network, a National Association of Secondary School Principals-sponsored group of school leaders who have experienced gun violence in our buildings. We created the network because when the nation—and our elected officials—inevitably turned their attention away from our tragedies and failed to prevent future ones, someone needed to step up to help principals and their communities through the years of recovery.

We are so tired of reliving the worst days of our lives. Time and again, the same thing happens: A shooting occurs, we ask our elected leaders to help us heal and stop future violence, and all we are left with are thoughts and prayers. After the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, last month, we need to disrupt this cycle. We need our representatives at every level of government to do everything it takes to prevent our kids and educators from being murdered in school.

See Also

Mourners grieve at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. Authorities say a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at Oxford High School, killing four students and wounding seven other people on Tuesday.
Mourners grieve at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., on Dec. 1, 2021. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at the school, killing four students and wounding seven other people.
Paul Sancya/AP
School Climate & Safety Opinion We Can Do More to Stop School Shootings
Sarah Rogerson , June 8, 2022
5 min read

But the unfortunate truth is we have only a small window in which to act. Our members, who include principals from Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas, know this all too well. We experienced tragedies that shook the nation, yet all that was left behind were the aftershocks of death and trauma. When the news stops covering shootings, that does not mean the problem is solved.

Now, for the moment, all eyes are on Uvalde. A slew of media stories, press conferences, funerals, celebrity visits, and therapy dogs rightfully keep our attention focused on helping this Texas town and ensuring tragedies like this one never happen again.

Yet, every day the attention fades. News vans leave, funerals end, celebrities return to their jobs, and the dogs go back home. Soon, the homemade crosses and the deafening silence will be all that remain—until the next shooting happens somewhere else in the country.

We will not be silent. We will work to make sure that our collective voices reach the halls of Congress. Because the minute that we as a nation stop talking about school shootings, our representatives do the same. If you care about your students and colleagues, you cannot let this conversation fade away. We must all make our voices heard.

The reality is that the tragedy at Robb Elementary was the 27th school shooting this year. That’s a shooting every five days. And now 19 children and two teachers are among the 2,600 casualties as a result of school shootings since 1970. Six months into the year, there have already been more than 250 mass shootings in various venues across the country.

This violence extends beyond our schools, and nowhere is truly safe. Discussions on ending school shootings must never be put on the back burner until the avoidable and needless deaths stop forever.

In the network’s effort to break the cycle of stagnation, we recently begged our elected leaders to do somethinganything—to prevent another horrific incident in our schools. While members of our group come from different places and backgrounds, we are all united in our demand that politicians do their jobs and find a solution to stem the violence. As we write this, there are federal bipartisan bills under consideration, and passing even one bill will save lives. Any action is better than the paralysis we’re dealing with right now.

There is a time for thoughts and prayers. And there is a time to act. That time is now. Add your voice to the calls for elected leaders to protect our students, educators, schools, and communities. If our representatives don’t respond now, it is inevitable these tragedies will happen again.

Michael Bennett was the assistant principal of Columbia High School in East Greenbush, N.Y. Currently, he is the assistant superintendent for school administration for the Schodack Central school district in New York.

Elizabeth Brown is the principal of Forest High School in Ocala, Fla.

Andy Fetchik is a former principal of Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio. He is currently the director of human resources at the Mayfield City schools in Ohio.

Lauren Ford is a former principal of Procter R. Hug High School in Reno, Nev. She is now a lead area superintendent at Washoe County school district in Nevada.

Denise Fredericks is the principal of Townville Elementary School in Townville, S.C.

Kathleen Gombos is the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Warman Hall was the principal of Aztec High School in Aztec, N.M. He is now the director of federal programs in the district.

Jake Heibel is the principal of Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Md.

Matthew Hicks was the assistant principal at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Ind. He is now the superintendent of Northeastern Wayne Schools in Wayne County, Ind.

Greg Johnson is the principal of West Liberty-Salem High School in West Liberty, Ohio.

Michelle Kefford is the principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Kevin Lein is a former principal of Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, S.D. He is now the principal of Camelot Intermediate School in Iowa.

Andy McGill is the assistant principal of West Liberty-Salem High School in West Liberty, Ohio.

Jeff Meisenheimer is the principal of Lee’s Summit North High School in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

George Roberts is a former principal of Perry Hall High School in Baltimore. He is currently a community superintendent of the Baltimore County public schools in Maryland.

Michael Sedlak is a former assistant principal of Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio. He is currently the principal of East Woods School in Ohio.

Ty Thompson is a former principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He is now the assistant director of athletics and student activities for the Broward County public schools in Florida.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Teaching Live Online Discussion Seat at the Table: How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School?
Get strategies for your struggles with student engagement. Bring questions for our expert panel. Help students recover the joy of learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center What Would Make Schools Safer? Here's What Educators Say
Respondents to a national survey of educators said measures like red flag laws, more school counselors are key to any school safety law.
7 min read
Photograph of crime scene tape and school.
F.Sheehan/Education Week and Getty
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center 'The World Feels Less Stable': Educators' Sense of School Safety Right Now
6 in 10 educators said a mass shooting by a student or outsider was their biggest source of fear.
7 min read
Woman standing on a paper boat with a tsunami wave approaching.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Texas Top Cop: Uvalde Police Could Have Ended Rampage Early On
The head of the Texas state police pronounced the law enforcement response an “abject failure.”
5 min read
FILE - Law enforcement, and other first responders, gather outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Law enforcement authorities had enough officers on the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, the Texas public safety chief testified Tuesday, June 21 pronouncing the police response an “abject failure.”(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)
School Climate & Safety 2 Police Officers Had Chance to Shoot Uvalde School Gunman, Deputy Says
The unidentified officers said they feared hitting children playing in the line of fire outside the school.
2 min read
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, to honor the victims killed in Tuesday's shooting at the school.
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, to honor the victims killed in the May 24th shooting at the school.
Jae C. Hong/AP