As I approached the school the Friday before winter break our flags were (again) at half-staff. Sadly, this happens often enough that I don’t always know why the flags are lowered. But I knew why as I approached the Friday before break. We were mourning along-side parents and students across the nation for the events that took place in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Listening to the conversations unfold as the days and weeks have passed, I am left wondering, will we come together this time and find solutions? If so, how will we do that?
The typical conversation goes, the cause is THIS! No, the cause is THAT! And we all dig our heels in (myself included) and push away the other as we hold our strong opinions. Truth be told, I think the answer is probably we are all a little bit right and all a little bit wrong. So can we work together to find the best in all our ideas and make our schools safer?
CAN WE WORK TOGETHER ON…
Access to mental health support: Since Alki PTA took over paying the salary of our school counselor, we have been advocating to the legislature and the school district to fully fund counselors in ALL Seattle Public Schools. We are not the only PTA that pays for our counselor and there are schools that don’t have counselors at all.
The legislature just passed Bill 1377: Improving Students’ Mental Health by Enhancing Non-Academic Professional Services. Can we use this as a way to raise our voices to make sure a school counselor is in the baseline for all schools?
School building safety and security: As we saw in Principal Deese’s March 2nd Flashback Friday, the school has been working with the police department, fire department, and the Seattle Public School district identify and plan for safety updates to our building. One aspect of that is to secure entry points. This project will be costly and is outside of the school’s budget and the current PTA budget. PTA will be discussing the proposal at our April 4th meeting and will vote whether or not to use money out of the PTA reserves to pay for it. Please join us for that discussion!
Appropriate training for staff and students: We have lock down drills, we have earthquake drills, what else might need to be done? Given the wide age range of our students, how do we ensure age appropriate material for each class? What support might we need for students with different abilities or sensory issues? What support might the teachers and staff need or want to feel more prepared?
Update regulations: The National PTA, the Washington State PTA, and the Seattle Public Schools have all adopted resolutions and position statements to support changes to current laws and funding with child safety in mind. Seattle Council PTSA was also working on a resolution at the time that this went to print.
Alki PTA will be talking about whether or not to adopt a resolution for ourselves in our April PTA meeting. We will be using the Seattle Council PTSA resolution as a starting point.
You can check out those statements here:
- National PTA Position Statement: tinyurl.com/y7x3qk9m
- Seattle Public School Resolution: tinyurl.com/y8tub8an
- Washington State PTA Statement: tinyurl.com/y6u92oyf
- Seattle Council PTSA latest on this issue go here: http://scptsa.org/
<Insert issue you feel passionate will help here >
What is missing from this list? Is there something you feel like we should be talking about as a community around this issue that we aren’t? Let’s talk about it.