Blog: The Educated Reporter

Duncan Praises Sandy Hook Teachers and Staff

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met privately Wednesday with the staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following last week’s shootings which left 26 people dead, including 20 first graders. Duncan also attended a wake for Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who died in the attack.

In a video message, Duncan praised the “quiet heroism” of Sandy Hook’s teachers, administrators and staff, who rushed to hide children in closets, cupboards, and bathrooms as the gunman made his way through the school. Several teachers died shielding their students.

Much is already asked of educators “but no one could possibly ask for this kind of sacrifice,” Duncan said.

On a related note, on Tuesday Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that would have allowed individuals to carry concealed weapons in locations where it is currently prohibited, including day care centers, hospitals and schools. The legislation had significant opposition, including from the American Federation of Teachers.

“Gov. Snyder is making the right call by rejecting this dangerous legislation,” Zack Pohl, executive director of Progress Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press. “This is a victory for school safety and common sense. We need more math and science teachers in our classrooms, not more guns.”

Similar legislation to allow school personnel to carry concealed weapons is being discussed in other states in the aftermath of Sandy Hook. But the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals joined forces Wednesday to issue a strong statement opposing such proposals:

“It is not reasonable to expect that a school official could intervene in a deadly force incident, even with a modicum of training, quickly and safely enough to save lives. Yet even the slightest hope of saving lives bumps up against another well-researched reality: gun-related violent behavior is closely connected to local access to guns. If we increase the number of guns in schools—no matter how carefully we safeguard them—we can expect an increase in gun violence.”

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