Resources on School Safety & Gun Violence

In the weeks that have followed the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida there has been increased energy from public and private schools to push for action to keep our schools safer. Just recently, NYC school heads united in the New York Times with a similar purpose. Both the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) have penned non-partisan position pieces on gun violence and safety in our schools, and Head-Royce has joined with CAIS schools to state a unified hope for our School and support student voices in a shared ad in the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, which ran this past Sunday, March 11. Please find both statements below. The SF Chronicle ad can be accessed at the link in the right column of this page.

California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Statement on Gun Violence and School Safety

As the Board of Directors of the California Association of Independent Schools, we join our Executive Director and the undersigned colleagues from our member schools — as well as other independent, religious, and proprietary schools throughout California — in anguish over the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of this and every school shooting, and we stand in unwavering support of the survivors.

We also stand in full solidarity with concerned educators nationwide. Today, school shootings are appallingly routine. Innocent lives of flourishing young people have been cut short, and students of every age in countless communities are afraid to go to school. These students are our future leaders. They and others, with a myriad of different perspectives, are also eager to change this paradigm by navigating our democratic processes, by engaging in respectful civic discourse, and by acting as catalysts for needed change, which we heartily applaud. We need to listen to their voices and respond to their pleas to make schools safe.

As educators and as citizens, we are proud Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who believe that our country need not choose between the rightful protection of responsible gun ownership and the necessary prevention of gun violence. We believe that the epidemic of gun violence in schools is an issue of non-partisan urgency, one that demands a higher duty of care.

We recall with admiration the ability to rise above partisanship on this issue displayed by two former Presidents, Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan, both of whom owned guns. In 1994, they worked together to help reduce the number of dangerous weapons available to private citizens. Sadly, nearly 25 years after their efforts, the United States still leads the world in the number of guns per capita and accounts for an astonishing 91% of the children killed by guns around the world. Today, assault weapons in particular are used in a disproportionate number of mass shootings, many of which have targeted schools. As educators who work tirelessly to nurture and educate the next generation of Americans, we believe this is tragic.

We join as colleagues and implore our regional and national leaders to take the necessary steps to protect our students, teachers, and staff and, with profound resolve, to address the many factors that contribute to safe and secure educational communities, including responsible safeguards related to guns.

Never before have so many school leaders from all corners of this great nation, from every type of school, spoken with one voice to address a single issue. We are moved to do so on behalf of all of this nation’s children, whose welfare and safety it is our common duty to ensure.

National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Statement on Student and School Safety

Students have a right to learn without fear. Learning in a safe and healthy environment is a foundational requirement for a successful education. Yet in communities across the country, the fundamental promise to protect students has been fractured by gun violence. This must change.

As a national education association, NAIS empowers independent schools and the students they serve. The schools that belong to NAIS teach students to become informed and engaged citizens who contribute to their communities and to the larger society. As the nation considers how best to protect children, NAIS urges elected officials to take meaningful legislative and regulatory action now to support the safety and well-being of children. We also urge officials to listen to our students as they advocate for systemic change.

This is a problem that we can solve. The issues involved are complex, and many people have deeply held views on how to best address the challenge. But we must get started and refuse to let the complexities paralyze us. Only by working together can our nation’s leaders, our schools, and our students bring about the change that’s so vital to a secure future.