Superintendent Guerrero’s Statement on Gun Violence and Impact on School Safety12/13/2022
Yesterday, for the third time in two months, a gun was fired just outside a Portland Public Schools campus. In two of those instances, PPS students have been injured. And across the city, during this same time period, far too many Portlanders have been victims of our region’s escalating gun violence.
As a lifelong educator, I see my primary responsibility as ensuring the safety and well-being of the children and youth under our care, as well as their teaching and learning. I am grateful for the commitment and service of our educators and support staff who everyday dedicate themselves to accomplishing these goals.
But as gunfire rattles another PPS community, I urge our community to come together and work collectively towards resolving the social problems plaguing our neighborhoods.
If students fear for their safety, or their friends’ safety, or their family members’ safety, they cannot enter our classrooms feeling safe, secure, and ready to learn. If gun violence continues to occur, especially near our school buildings, students will feel a heightened anxiety, instead of a greater sense of belonging and safety. Compounding matters, our students are still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic: mental and behavioral needs have never been greater.
In public schools, our responsibility is to serve every student who walks through our doors. As educators, we understand that many of the children and young adults we have the privilege of serving face a range of real challenges in their lives. We know that families are often confronting generational poverty, institutional racism, and economic or housing-related challenges. Our job is to recognize these barriers, support our students, and ensure they have access to a high-quality education. It is our shared belief, as stated in our district’s vision, that a rigorous and well-rounded education will better prepare our graduates to be critical thinkers, ready to lead a more socially just world.
We’ll continue to focus on our sphere of influence: ensuring every student has a well-rounded education. We will focus on making sure that our schools are safe, welcoming, and stable spaces, and that our educators and staff are people they can depend on. We’ll continue to partner with community-based and culturally specific organizations to help provide our students with essential support services and mentorship. And we will maintain a focus on making sure every student knows we believe in their brilliance and potential.
This needs to be a community-wide effort. We need to work together to center our children and youth, and to develop meaningful solutions that will encourage a peaceful and positive environment required for them to thrive. PPS stands ready to be part of the solution.