SPRINGFIELD – The following is attributable to Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin, IEA Vice President Al Llorens and IEA Secretary/Treasurer Tom Tully regarding the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex.:

“We face another tragedy – an almost unbearable and oft-repeated incident of kids getting on a bus, going to school and hanging up their backpacks on a hook in a classroom to never walk out.

“The anguish of the families of these innocent children who were murdered, the two brave and nurturing teachers who tried to protect them, and of the Uvalde, Tex. community as a whole is almost too hard to watch.

“It should raise red flags for us as a country that in the cases of Robb Elementary School, of the Tops grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., among others, the shooters were so young.

“The web of mental health services that is meant to catch these kids, cradle them and help heal them has giant tears in it. The signs they give get ignored instead of treated. We have to do better, especially in the shadow of a pandemic that caused more-than-normal stress and isolation.

“It’s time to stop watching these tragedies and start doing something. We ask for our leaders to come together. This is not a partisan issue. This is not a gun rights issue. This is an issue of children being able to attend school and be safe, of families of color being able to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day and not be targeted by violence, and of helping all of America not live in fear.

“We join U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut’s plea for Congress to come together. ‘This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country. Nowhere else,’ he said on the Senate floor Tuesday. ‘It is a choice.’

“We join that plea. We ask that those who can make change do. Please pass common sense laws to help stop weapons from getting into the hands of those too sick to handle them. Please restore the mental health services that once existed in our schools and strengthen those outside them. Please make the right choice.”

The following resources are available for parents and educators:

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At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.