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By Jeffrey Shields posted 02-27-2018 09:15 AM


CEO Notebook |

Schools are demonstrating a heartening show of unity to prevent further gun violence.

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Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

These are unusual and all-too-often often alarming times for our nation and our schools. As we continue to process the horror of the February 14 shootings at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School, I am heartened by the show of unity among independent and public schools alike — and among their courageous and principled students — to prevent further gun violence. Risk management is a vital component of your portfolio and takes on even greater importance to your faculty, administration, parents and students at times like these.

The examples of positive action stemming from tragedy are too numerous to list, but here are a few from the past few days that stood out to me.

  • As more than 100 New York heads of school wrote in a remarkable open letter published in Sunday’s New York Times, “We stand in support of the Parkland survivors and their efforts to effect change.” These leaders and their schools, along with all NBOA member schools, “…are responsible for the education, safety and welfare of children each and every day.” I agree with them that “the time for action is now.”
  • Thousands of students in hundreds of schools around the nation plan to participate in one or more school walkouts being planned regionally and nationally. Perhaps the biggest is the March 14 National School Walkout, where for 17 minutes (one for every life lost in the Parkland shooting), students, teachers, administrators and others will walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. across every time zone to demand changes in the laws regulating firearms.
  • More and more independent schools are standing in support of these students. Wisely, most are taking precautions to at once notify parents, protect all students’ liberties and safety, and maintain school operations with minimal disruption. As the principals of one NBOA-member school wrote in an email to the school community, “We know from past experience that there can be an unpredictable, potentially disruptive element to social justice activities of this sort. Our commitment is to keep the school running smoothly and purposefully as our students and the country navigate these next few weeks.”

I am inspired by the students and school leaders who are using their voices articulately and passionately to convey strength and wisdom at this time. They have convinced me that things can be different if we don’t let this moment pass, and if we resist accepting that these violent events are inevitable and unpreventable.

Not everybody will agree with my sentiments in this column, and I acknowledge that my role with NBOA is not a political one. However, keeping the students who are in our care safe from unimaginable harm is not a political action. Let’s follow the lead of all who are working to prevent further violence in schools and do whatever it takes to accomplish this singular goal.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Nashville in the coming days at the 2018 NBOA Annual Meeting.

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Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.
From Net Assets NOW, February 27, 2018. Read past issues of CEO Notebook.

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