(Photo courtesy of Gov. Greg Abbott's Office)

TCTA Executive Director Jeri Stone was asked to participate in one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s roundtable discussions on school safety this week, held in response to the recent tragedy at Santa Fe High School. Stone was the only teacher representative included in the talks, attending the meeting on Wednesday along with Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Joe Straus, Education Commissioner Mike Morath, several legislators, mental health experts, school administrators, and representatives of gun groups and other associations.

The May 23, 2018, meeting focused primarily on violence prevention, including gun safety measures (other meetings included issues such as gun regulation and increasing school security). Stone addressed the group to advocate for the following:

  • More support of teachers in disciplinary settings
  • More options outside the classroom for students who are not following boundaries of appropriate behavior
  • Teacher access to a continuum of mental health experts for students who may need to be professionally assessed
  • More centralized data collection regarding individual students to determine whether there is an escalation of concerning behaviors
  • Enhanced access to mental health professionals for students
  • More counselors with a focus on behavioral counseling.

Stone noted that while teachers want to do what they can to help troubled students, they are not mental health professionals and should not be expected to function in that capacity. 

She referenced TCTA’s recent informal survey of our members regarding school safety and copies of the associated magazine article were provided to all participants in the discussion. TCTA will continue to strongly advocate for teachers and students in future conversations about school safety.