California Educator

February 2013

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> SAFE SCHOOLS No one thinks it���s going to happen at their school ��� until it does CTA and NEA are there to help BY DINA MARTIN Staff and students at Taft Union High School didn���t think a shooting would happen on their school grounds, less than a month after a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., took the lives of 20 children and six adults. But it did. ���We���ve always felt very safe here and have had no difficulties on campus,��� says Claude Bradford, a counselor at Taft High and president of the Taft High Teachers Association. ���It always happens ���somewhere else.������ But that���s not what happened on Thursday, Jan. 10, when a 16-year-old student wounded a classmate with a shotgun and made heroes out of teacher Ryan Heber and campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields, who persuaded the shooter to relinquish his weapon. Heber suffered a minor pellet wound to the head. The suspect was taken into custody and the school was closed until the following Tuesday. Although the heroics of Heber and Fields were praised by Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, the science teacher has maintained a low profile since the incident and declined to speak further to the media. ���I���m not ready yet to talk about what happened in my classroom. I don���t feel comfortable being called a hero. I���m just a teacher, a husband and a father to my two boys,��� Heber told the local ABC TV affiliate. In many ways, everything was done right at Tat. Just that morning, teachers had discussed new lockdown procedures with their students in light of the killing spree in Newtown. A neighbor near the school saw the suspect carrying a shotgun and called 911. Video surveillance captured the suspect as he nervously entered the school and made his way to Heber���s science class. More 40 California Educator February 2013 than two dozen classmates were able to escape while Heber and Fields distracted the shooter. Students were taken into the school auditorium and released to the care of their parents. When students returned to school, grief counselors and school psychologists from far and near were there to provide assistance ��� an ofer that many accepted. he school���s teachers and staf were feeling the trauma as well, Bradford reports, and classroom work was given over to a day of talking with each other. ���Everyone is against violence in the classroom,��� Bradford says. ���But what to do about it is the issue.��� A well-publicized proposal by the National Rile Association to combat violence in schools by arming teachers with guns draws little enthusiasm from Bradford. ���It wouldn���t have made a diference,��� he says. ���hings like this happen in an instant.��� Long time gun and school safety advocates, CTA and NEA took action ofering assistance and resources (see sidebar). Taking a stand to make California���s public schools safer and even more secure, State Council voted to oppose any eforts to arm educators across the state, and is supporting Senator Dianne Feinstein���s legislation to ban military-style assault weapons (page 36). In addition, CTA ofered advice and resources to leaders like Congressman Mike hompson, from Sonoma County, who is the new chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. ���We���re going to have to make some changes here, ���Bradford adds. ���Maybe that will be the good that comes out of this.��� School is still the safest place ��� Approximately 300,000 Americans are injured each year by guns. ��� Approximately 30,000 Americans are killed each year by guns. ��� Approximately 3,000 children/youth are killed each year by guns. ��� Approximately 15 to 30 students are killed in school or on school grounds each year by guns. The number has been steadily declining over the past decade. ��� In other words, although children spend more than half of their waking hours at school, school deaths account for about one-half of 1 percent of gun-related children deaths in America. RESOURCES ��� CTA���s Traumatic Events Assistance and Management (TEAM) Cadre Trained CTA staff are prepared to help members and staff deal with mental and emotional trauma associated with emergencies, from natural disasters to a death of a student. Contact your local CTA staff person for information. HOT LINKS ��� Talking to children about tragedy Tips for parents and teachers to help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears. ��� NEA School Crisis Guide Resources for school teams on preparing for, reacting to, and responding to a crisis.

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