This morning I had the privilege of speaking to the students at a city school that helped shape my life and my career...Metro Academic and Classical High School. It was a humbling experience to say the least. The energy and potential of the students radiates through the hallways of this institution. Though the faces of many of the teachers and administrators have changed since I was there, the level of dedication to the student’s success clearly remains.
During a question and answer session, this enlightened group of kids openly discussed the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month. It was quite evident that they understand that no community is safe from this type of tragedy. The questions that I fielded from the students at Metro were not issues I had to face when I attended school there 25 years ago. They expressed concerns about gun control laws and the prevalence of guns in our society and what we can do about it. They were clearly concerned about their futures as well as the dangers that exist today.
We all know that the lives that were lost that day in Newtown, Connecticut can never be replaced, but they will not be forgotten. We must continue to focus on the safety of the schools in our city and on getting guns off the streets. Making our citizens safe is a priority to our Department and this includes students and teachers inside the schools.
I understand that forming partnerships with our schools and having open dialogue about safety, is necessary in order to be successful in our mission. Several weeks ago I invited representatives from the St. Louis School System to our weekly CompStat meeting to discuss school safety. Administrators from the Archdiocese, the St. Louis Public Schools, and the St. Louis Charter Schools sat down with the Department’s command staff to discuss what safety measures they currently have in place and ways our Department might help them improve.
After the meeting, we were invited to participate in a workshop for teachers and administrators sponsored by the St. Louis Public Schools which is scheduled later this month. We are working to expand our training to schools in the weeks to come and will remain focused on making students and teachers feel safe.