Take a First Step to End Gun Violence in Our Schools

Take a First Step to End Gun Violence in Our Schools

Merrie Najimy

Merrie Najimy, President

Take the first step to end gun violence


We are all feeling deep anguish – matched by outrage – that our national elected leaders are failing to protect students, educators and communities from the gun violence that continues to needlessly claim so many innocent lives.

Our public schools should be among the safest spaces in any community. Sadly, that no longer holds true in too many places.

No “inalienable rights” can justify the murder of children and educators at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Or the killing of Black people who are going about their lives and shopping at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Or … or … or …

There are no more excuses for the massacres that plague American society from week to week and day to day.

Our schools should be open and welcoming to all. They should be places of joyful learning. But because the root causes of gun violence go unaddressed, too many have, by necessity, become high-security spaces that are surveilled with technology 24 hours a day.

Massachusetts educators are grieving today, and we understand that we must use our collective power to demand the changes needed to make our communities safe.

We will take a big first step toward that on Wednesday, June 1, which will be a Day of Action in our locals – and the start of something larger.

As Milton Educators Association member Zakia Jarrett said during our virtual statewide membership meeting yesterday, the message she has received from parents and co-workers is the same: This is untenable – and it has to change now.

“Who better to speak up? We are the people expected to protect our students with our classroom materials and even our own bodies.”

Milton Educators Association member Zakia Jarrett

“Who better to speak up? We are the people expected to protect our students with our classroom materials and even our own bodies,” Jarrett said as several hundred fellow educators listened and offered their own thoughts in the meeting chat. “We must demand better for the children and for ourselves.”

So here are some of the plans that we will put into action for next week. And a hint of what we expect will follow.

Make Wednesday, June 1, a Day of Mourning, Rage and Action. 

MTA Suggested Actions
  • Walk Ins: We’re asking you to work with union siblings, parents, students and other community members to meet – perhaps 22 minutes before classes begin – and walk together into your schools.
  • Walk Outs: Alternatively, you could work with principals and other administrators – who should be just as anguished and outraged as your union siblings – to organize a school-wide walkout together, perhaps 22 minutes before the end of the school day.
  • In those 22 minutes, you might memorialize the wonderful children and adults who were so brutally shot to death.
Make a Flurry of Phone Calls & Posts

Alternatives or additional actions could include a social media storm or a series of calls to members of Congress, President Joe Biden, the NRA at (800) 672-3888, or your local legislators and other elected officials. Tell them who you are and why this must stop.

MTA Member Suggestions
  • Say their names: Read out the names of the 22 Uvalde victims.
  • Place a chair: Line up 22 empty chairs with the names, graduation caps and gowns.
  • Display 22 symbols: Flags, flowers, lunchboxes, chalk drawings of flowers, and cards or signs with the names are possibilities. Ring a bell to sound our grief.
Suggestions for Higher Ed Members

We recognize that higher education classes are out of regular session, but here are a few options:

  • If you have children in public schools, reach out to your student's educators in the town or city you live in.
  • Reach out to the local educators’ union even if you do not have a child in school.
  • If you teach a summer session, hold a teach-in.

Beyond June 1:

June 11: [Please Note the Updated Time] Meet at 2:30 p.m. outside of the MTA Boston office at 20 Ashburton Place to walk together to the March for Our Lives Rally. 

And we will all take things from there, with national calls to action at the upcoming NEA Representative Assembly and through processing the dozens of other good ideas that surfaced during yesterday’s call. The MTA will be in touch and, as always, your union will help you exercise your collective power.

But for now, take a first step. Will you join your fellow educators on Wednesday in sending the message that we are united in our resolve to eradicate gun violence for the lives of our students, for their families, for educators, and for the common good?

In solidarity,