A current college student said “we’re the school-shooting generation.” And she’s right.
The first school shooting occurred in 1999, about the time when today’s college students were born. Since then there’s been an increasing amount of gun violence including a succession of school shootings. And what have we adults done? Nothing. It’s “not the right time.” It’s “let’s not politicize this.” It’s “guns aren’t the problem”
For guns, it’s always the right time. Guns are apolitical. And yes, guns are the weapons used to kill people. So if it’s not the “right time” to address gun violence, I ask “if not now, when?” And “if not me, who?”
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Can I really look my grandsons in the eye and tell them I did nothing for their “school-shooting” generation?
Common sense measure
HR 218/Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act needs to be amended ASAP to exempt qualified law-enforcement officers from legislation barring concealed carry on educational property. Let’s use some common sense.
Violence is so easy
More than laws, the guns issue in our country stems from the myth that violence is an appropriate and effective means to create peace (or at least silence) through control and deterrence. That is not peace but coercion.
This stems from a false narrative more than weak laws. But our history is marked by the effective wielding of violence to maintain power – and so it’s not buy into the lie. Stealing land from indigenous people, creating a cheap labor force through chattel slavery, segregation through the threat, mass incarceration, even the language used to win the presidency – our national success and pride rely on a positive view of violence and the myth will not die. Our reliance on violence is why gun legislation is impossible to pass – not because of the NRA but because we believe in the efficacy of violence. But violence cannot bring about peace, only love can do that.
I think about this every time I shout down my 4- and 2- year olds because I don't have the patience to work through what they are fighting about. While I have never spanked or hit my boys, I still see every day that I believe in the myth of violence too, and I’m teaching them the myth through the ways I threaten them with restrictions and raise my voice to cull their craziness when I am tired or rushed. Violence is so easy. It’s hard to reimagine how we operate…or pass common-sense gun legislation.
Too few school nurses
I was in the process of writing about the need for school nurses when the Parkland school shooting happened on Valentine’s Day. As the president of the N.C. Parent Teacher Association and an educator, I know that we have too few nurses per students – leaving many schools with a nurse one day a week or less and with teachers and administrators needing to respond to health emergencies and manage the daily needs of our children’s many chronic health needs. Each school nurse in the state serves an average of 1,112 students, serving far more students than the federally recommended ratio of one nurse per 750 students.
We need more school nurses and it is a worthwhile investment, but after the school shooting in Florida, we must also revisit our need for school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers. We have one school counselor for every 375 students; this is 50 percent more than the recommended ratio of one counselor for every 250 students. The nationally recommended ratio for school psychologists is one for every 700 students. Currently, the North Carolina ratio is one for every 2,100 students – each one is serving three times as many students as is recommended for comprehensive services. There are also far too few school social workers serving far too many students: the state average is one school social worker for every 1,719 students, nearly five times the national recommendation of one for every 250 students.
When there are not enough nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers in our schools, teachers and principals inevitably fill those roles to the best of their abilities. They are not professionals in these areas, and time spent providing these ancillary services is time not spent teaching our children and preparing them to be curious and innovative forces in our state’s future. Without enough nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers in our schools, there are simply not enough professionals keeping our students healthy and safe.
NCPTA is the state’s oldest and largest volunteer organization advocating for the education, health, safety and success of all children and youth while building strong families and communities. As we discuss class sizes and school safety, let’s discuss the role of these professions in allowing educators to teach, students to learn, and schools to be safe. As we discuss what successful schools, strong families, and healthy communities look like, let’s discuss fully funding and staffing these important jobs in our schools. Our children deserve it.
North Carolina PTA
Losing a historic airport
Chapel Hill’s Horace Williams Airport is scheduled for April closure, a great loss to North Carolina and aviation history. “IGX” is a public-use airport owned by UNC. One of our first airfields, IGX has been in continuous operation since the 1930s.
The airfield has unique standing in African-American aviation history. Twenty of the original Tuskegee Airmen called North Carolina home and most all did training at IGX. Warren Wheeler, the founder of the first African- American-owned air carrier, Wheeler Airlines, opened his own flying school at IGX in 1962. Earlier, due to racial segregation, earning a commercial pilot’s license was not possible for Wheeler in North Carolina. In order to realize his dream, Wheeler had to leave the South for his training.
The closing of the airport allows for an unnecessary campus expansion. Closure has been repeatedly blocked by the state legislature. In anticipation of closure, fixed-wing patient flights have been diverted to RDU, greatly expanding the immediate care time-line. Alternatively, helicopter flights arriving at the Trauma Center will need to fuel on the hospital helipad, jeopardizing hospital patients and staff. The fuel is pumped up the walls to the ninth floor hospital rooftop. Similar refueling was deemed unsafe by Cape Fear Hospital.
Shutdown was justified with faulty financial data. Even still, the alleged monthly loss of $7,500 is insignificant to the University.
Shortened reaction time lines saves lives. Medical expertise will be lost system; rural communities will be hurt.
North Carolina can ill-afford to lose this historical airport.
DA needs new gasses
A slap in the face to the Durham police officers by District Attorney Roger Echols. Eight people arrested for toppling a statue in downtown and no convictions. Law enforcement men and women risk their lives to protect and serve us, apparently Roger doesn't care. Maybe he needs new glasses. Glasses that don’t muddle his opinon with his obligation as district attorney to do his job.
Run against mosquitoes
It’s a hot, humid Saturday afternoon, and while it’s that time of year when you can tell spring is in the air, there’s also something else in the air: mosquitoes.
While they are rarely more than a nuisance for most of us in North Carolina, mosquitoes can be deadly for individuals in tropical climates where mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue, malaria, and zika, are common. Though we may be safe here, these illnesses have gripping effects across the globe, and it is becoming increasingly important that we begin to take steps to aid those in countries less privileged than our own.
This is the message that SECURED hopes to spread.
I opened my eyes to an issue that is much larger than just one person after co-founder Vibhu Ambil’s encounter with dengue fever.
He and I founded SECURED, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to raise awareness for mosquito-borne illnesses and foster scientific innovation through educational programs and fundraising events. Run by a group of students at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, the organization seeks to aid relief efforts with partners in India and Thailand, including the People for Urban and Rural Education and the Kamnoetvidya Science Academy.
This spring, SECURED is hosting a fundraiser through The Great Human Race, a 5K run organized by the Triangle Nonprofit and Volunteer Leadership Center. The race is scheduled to be held on March 24 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. To register, visit bit.ly/2oKO4V9 and use promo code SECURED2018 to support the cause! Secure monetary donations are also being accepted at bit.ly/2oHYvsx.
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