We visited El Paso last month, meeting with local teachers and school staff. We listened to their stories about how they and their students are dealing with the trauma in the aftermath of the Walmart mass shooting. We were there after the national media left because we wanted to talk to teachers and staff, to see what they still need.
Our members had students who were in the store. Some witnessed their parents being shot. As the community tries to put their lives back together, educators are trying to give their students a sense of safety that should never have been ripped away from them. Their kids are jittery and scared, and many are too afraid to talk about their feelings.
Teachers and school staff in El Paso have asked us for help, so we set up our Disaster Relief Fund. If you have a chance to donate, and if you can share this link with your members, it will go a long way to helping them.
During one of our meetings, a teacher cried as she told us about how she brings food to one of her students because the child’s parents are still in the hospital. Without educators like her, these kids might not eat. We sat with a local organizer whose husband was in the store during the massacre and ran back in to carry kids out. And several teachers talked about the emotional labor it takes to help these kids, without time to process their own grief and trauma.
We are committed to helping our members and their locals do everything they can to help these students. That’s why we wanted to make sure you, as a leader in this union, had the opportunity to help too.
This isn’t the only crisis
we are facing right now. What’s happening in the Bahamas is heartbreaking, and
we’re looking at ways to provide relief. We’ll follow up soon with
opportunities to help people in the path of this season’s hurricanes.
Houston Federation of Teachers President