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Teachers from around the country told our team of producers they have long been frustrated with the larger public response to shootings and school safety and many have been particularly angry about the way this has long played out in Washington and state capitals. Tragically, the shooting in Uvalde reinforced and exacerbated many of these concerns. Here's what some of them had to say.
If Congress and the president approve a bipartisan agreement on guns and school safety, it would provide new resources to try to prevent school shootings, like the massacre in Uvalde, and would likely mean new money for mental health care, violence prevention, and more training for educators.
Many educators want to see more action.
Stephanie Sy picks up the conversation from there.
Judy, teachers from around the country told our team of producers they have long been frustrated with the larger public response to shootings and school safety. And many have been particularly angry about the way this has played out in Washington and state capitals.
Tragically, the shooting in Uvalde reinforced and exacerbated many of these concerns.
Trina Moore, High School Teacher:
I have been teaching now for 27 years, and I have never had such a stressful time teaching as I have now.
Jean Darnell, Librarian Educator:
In the era of school shootings, every day is a nervous wreck sometimes.
Sarah Lerner, Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Shooting Survivor:
Prior to the shooting at my school, it was always this kind of looming thing that happened in other places.
And then, once it happened to us, now we're part of this terrible club of gun violence survivors. Immediately after we returned after the shooting here, I still felt safe. But I did not sign up to have all of these added asks and responsibilities put upon me, outside of what I am contractually obligated to do.
Sari Beth Rosenberg, High School Teacher:
A term I have been using a lot to describe how I'm feeling and other teachers, and people who work in schools and students across America, we're all feeling like we are sitting ducks.
Abbey Clements, Sandy Hook School Shooting Survivor:
To the person who tells me, you just need training and this is all you need to know, with the amount of ammunition that you can get and the power and lethality of the weapons that we have, like, it happens so fast.
Prior to surviving a school shooting myself, personally, I watched on the news. I knew that they happened occasionally. But I never really had this impending sense that it was going to happen to me.
I was teaching standing in a cafeteria one time when there was a school shooting. Never once did I think, I'm going to have to take safety measures and learn how to pack a wound that's bleeding too much. I'm going to have to figure out how to turn my desk into a door anchor to kind of prevent someone from going in.
This is something that was never taught in a class, that was never explained to any of the educators coming out during my era.
Tim Smyth, High School Teacher:
We have all run through the drills. They are very scary to do, but very important to do.
You want to know what it does to kids? I'm with high school kids. And the last time we had one, they — the people who were checking the doors had a flashlight.
And so we were in my room, in this back room, and we could see the flashlight shining through the shades. And I had several — several kids just burst out in tears. And, honestly, I felt — I felt like crying too.
I don't think we should drag children through these horrendous drills. And we certainly shouldn't have them endure active — active simulations that mimic real trauma and death, because this onus of gun violence is on the adults. And so how dare we put this on kids.
Sari Beth Rosenberg:
I'm so angry that I know how to have conversations with young people about school shootings.
I'm a teacher because, whether I like it or not, I can't help but see the good in people. And every one of my kids, I see the good in them.
And I am being asked now to not do that, to look for the red flags, to see them as potential enemies, which goes against everything I am as a teacher.
That will be the day that I retired from teaching, if not only for me, if I was forced to be armed in the classroom. But even if other teachers volunteer to be armed, I would — I would retire from teaching.
If the shooter had gotten into my room that day, I mean, I don't have a gun, but, if I did, I wouldn't have been able to access it. I would have been shot and killed.
I would feel better prepared. If I felt that society cared more about teachers than they do right now.
I have felt so much hatred towards teachers that I haven't felt, even last year, nothing like this.
The teachers are not OK. They're not OK in Uvalde.
They need an incredible amount of care and support. They cannot be told that you just need to kind of suck it up and move on. And I don't think anybody actually says that to survivors, but that's how it often feels.
I'm 20 years into this. And I can tell you 20 years as an educator is hard, 20 years as a Black educator is even harder, and the repercussions on my health, irreplaceable.
Watch the Full Episode
Stephanie Sy is a PBS NewsHour correspondent and serves as anchor of PBS NewsHour West. Throughout her career, she served in anchor and correspondent capacities for ABC News, Al Jazeera America, CBSN, CNN International, and PBS NewsHour Weekend. Prior to joining NewsHour, she was with Yahoo News where she anchored coverage of the 2018 Midterm Elections and reported from Donald Trump’s victory party on Election Day 2016.
Nicole Ellis is PBS NewsHour's digital anchor where she hosts pre- and post-shows and breaking news live streams on digital platforms and serves as a correspondent for the nightly broadcast. Ellis joined the NewsHour from The Washington Post, where she was an Emmy nominated on-air reporter and anchor covering social issues and breaking news. In this role, she hosted, produced, and directed original documentaries and breaking news videos for The Post’s website, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Facebook and Twitch, earning a National Outstanding Breaking News Emmy Nomination for her coverage of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Ellis created and hosted The Post’s first original documentary series, “Should I freeze my eggs?,” in which she explores her own fertility and received the 2019 Digiday Publishers Award. She also created and hosted the Webby Award-winning news literacy series “The New Normal,” the most viewed video series in the history of The Washington Post’s women’s vertical, The Lily.
She is the author of “We Go High,” a non-fiction self-help-by-proxy book on overcoming adversity publishing in 2022, and host of Critical Conversations on BookClub, an author-led book club platform.
Prior to that, Ellis was a part of the production team for the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series, CNN Heroes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Human Rights from Columbia University, as well as a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia Journalism School.
Casey is a producer for NewsHour's digital video team. She has won several awards for her work in broadcast journalism, including a national Edward R. Murrow award.
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