Union leaders call for more support for students, teachers, mental health/public information service


As the nation deals with the horrific shooting in Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, teachers’ unions in Illinois and America are pushing lawmakers to pass tougher gun control measures strict rules and mental health support for teachers and students.

Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association (IEA), which represents about 135,000 teachers and education support staff across the state, explained the effect on schools.

“Every time someone gets hurt at school or killed by another, it’s heartbreaking,” Griffin said. “And it’s not just the teachers, it’s our children. On top of the trauma of the pandemic.”

In 2019, the AIE contributed to the adoption by the general assembly School Threat Assessment law, requiring schools to conduct threat assessments and adopt a preventative approach to school violence.

Griffin pointed to offers from the National Education Association trauma training for teachers, who in turn can help students.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the US supply of teachers will be 200,000 below its projected demand by 2025.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, addressed a congressional subcommittee on Wednesday. She said counselling, mental health support and investments in “community schools“, which integrate academic, health and social supports, will help keep teachers in education.

“Full-service community schools will actually help children and help teachers teach and identify issues that we see before we see these kinds of horrible situations that we saw last night,” Weingarten argued.

Illinois has long struggled with gun violence, in part because of gun smuggling from states with looser gun rules. According to Chicago 2017 gun search reportabout six of the 10 firearms recovered after a crime in the previous three years were from out of state, mostly from neighboring Indiana.

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