On January 9, at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden, Deb Ziegler, CEC’s Associate Executive Director for Policy and Advocacy, attended a meeting at the White House to discuss the tragedy that occurred last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults.
As has been widely publicized in national news outlets, the Vice President and other members of the President’s cabinet – including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – are hosting meetings with key organizations as part of the Administration’s effort to take steps to address gun violence. By the end of this month, Vice President Biden is expected to give President Obama policy proposals for his consideration and action.
At the White House, Ziegler discussed that a national response must emphasize a comprehensive approach to addressing such tragedy, including a focus on consistent and widely available school-based mental health services. Unfortunately, positions of school social workers, school psychologists and school counselors have been cut in schools across the country due to shrinking budgets.
In the days after the Newtown tragedy, CEC – together with many researchers and expert practitioners – issued a statement which highlights the priority of keeping children safe by focusing on a balanced approach, communication, connectedness and support.
Supporting a safe and positive school climate is essential for creating an environment that supports personal growth and is conducive to learning. CEC’s policy on this issue provides key tenants to be addressed by school districts and educators which support the creation of safe learning environments that contribute to all students’ cognitive, academic, social-emotional, and ethical development.