New York Appleseed stands with IntegrateNYC and the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation community, as they work to heal after the tragic loss of life in late September.
See the IntegrateNYC statement below:
IntegrateNYC is a student-led advocacy organization that stands for a just and equitable school system in which every student is safe, supported, and affirmed as they navigate their education. As advocates for educational justice, members of the city community, and individuals, we mourn the loss of life at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation. For this to occur in the sanctuary of a school is as shocking as it is tragic. It is the onus of the people of New York City to come together in support of the families of the victims, as well as their school community and to consider how the school system at large is to heal the wounds that lead to violence. This latest manifestation of violence that plagues too many New York schools highlights both the entrenched problems perpetuating it and the dangerous surrounding rhetoric.
The narrative of failing students in failing schools was quick to follow the news of this tragedy. We must not allow the familiar fallacy that stronger policing and stricter discipline is the solution. Let us not allow bias to shape our perception of the event or our determination that it not happen again. We acknowledge and encourage the Urban Assembly network’s commitment to providing staff and students with appropriate mental health resources, as we believe that every student in that building deserves the respect and support that anyone who lost a close friend or family member would need to heal.
Often, short on guidance counselors, schools across NYC struggle to address internal conflicts before they boil over, and then are blamed. Interpersonal relationships between race, gender, class, and LGBT identities are ignored instead of cultivated across our school system, not just where the tragedy occurred.
Understandably, many who have been struck by this grave and painful event have been seeking solution-based responses. It is important that we speak about systematic changes to the ways in which we honor students in schools, rather than physical or external ones. A time of distress within a school and its surrounding community cannot be dealt with by introducing measures that will perpetuate the same unjust and discriminatory practices of over-policing students that have likely contributed to bringing violence into the building in the first place.
We stand for teacher training and curriculum that honors identity and personal history, restorative justice training for all staff, and fair allocation of support resources for all students. These changes in school culture are not achieved by simply adding a metal detector.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the victims, and our efforts remain committed to preventing such horrors in the future.
IntegrateNYC would like to launch a fundraiser with a media outlet for medical and funeral expenses of the families that could help us to route the funds appropriately. If a news source is willing to support, contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org with your interest do we can do so.