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NYSAIS Statement of Principle

Prologue As the Board of Trustees for an Association of educators in independent schools throughout the State of New York, responsible for the education and physical safety of over 70,000 children, we are deeply troubled by the continuing level of violence in our society.  Since the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut barely three months ago, there have been additional shootings involving schools and children . . .A shooting at Taft High School in California . . .A shooting at Stevens Institute in St. Louis . . . A shooting at Hazard Community and Technical College in Kentucky.

As educators, we must protect our most vulnerable. The New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) is an Association of teachers, trustees, administrators, and parents who, regardless of political affiliation, are repulsed when violence is directed at children, whose education is our life’s work.

As educators, we are united.  Our colleagues in the City of New York as well as in state, regional, and national educational associations and American colleges and universities have spoken. While we might not all agree on the specific language in any particular legislation, we all agree that action is necessary to curb gun violence, and that our country needs to sustain a national conversation about violence in television, games and movies, easy access to weapons, and other measures that could spare innocent lives in the future.

As educators, child safety is our primary concern.  Educators across the country are calling for specific action steps varying from intensifying campus security procedures and bans on military-grade assault weapons to ending gun show loopholes and instant background checks in order to identify people with histories of mental illness.  Independent school communities are addressing specific ways in which they can keep their children safe. NYSAIS supports our colleagues in their efforts to best define the problems and solutions affecting our society, while respecting each school’s independence, particularly in areas of religion and conscience.

As a statewide Association, we respect the independence of each school.  Respecting each school’s independence means we do not always speak with one voice. In the case of the safety of children, however, we do speak with a clear and singular message–action must be taken.  We believe our country need not choose between the protection of constitutional rights and the creation of a society in which each life is valued and respected. We believe that we can better protect our most vulnerable through clear and constitutional legislation.

Never before have so many American educators spoken with one voice on behalf of a single issue. We are moved to do so out of a duty to our students and all of our nation’s children. NYSAIS stands ready to help in this effort, and encourages our colleagues leading educational institutions across the country to join us. Above all, we request that reason and compassion prevail when it means protecting our society’s most defenseless members.

As a statewide Association, we are taking the following steps.  In addition to joining with American educators and organizations across the country in asking that our political leaders take positive actions to address the complex issues that these tragedies raise for our society, our Association will provide information, dialogue, and action by:

  • supporting our member schools through the accreditation process, and the establishment of a NYSAIS Principle of Best Practice, as they develop plans to insure the safety of their children;
  • providing professional development resources concerning the safety and well-being of our students, as well as the reduction of violence in our society through workshops and webinars;
  • creating an ongoing forum among member schools on these central issues; and
  • advocating for the safety of children with the New York State Legislature.

The NYSAIS Board of Trustees

March 6, 2013