23 Years Later: What Have We Learned? (My 500th Post)

While I would have liked my 500th post (an amazing milestone that I can scarcely believe) to be about a positive subject I have learned never to turn away from the difficult, the complex, and the sorrowful. While school shootings still happen, we as educators and citizens must not turn our collective backs on the causes and reasons these shooting continue happening. What is it about our county and our values and the way we fund and support mental health and the ease of availability of high powered weaponry that lets these killings happen at an astounding rate?

What have we learned in the 23 years since Columbine? I will let you answer that question for yourselves but I do want to share a few statistics: according to the Washington Post, since Columbine, there has been at least 554 victims in school shootings. It is estimated that 311, 000 children have been exposed to gun violence in a school setting.

I returned to the Columbine Memorial in Littleton, Colorado this time with my mother, a former educator , Steve and Sharon. Since my first visit I am convinced that every educator in the land (if not every resident) should come to this shine of death, destruction, and renewal.

I had visited the memorial in April of 2021, when there was still snow in the deep shadow areas that will not see sun for another few months.

We visited Clement Park, the park behind Columbine High School, and we could not find any parking near the memorial because, and I’m not making this up, of a Unicorn Festival.

Sharon dropped us off and we walked up towards the memorial to the 13 killed and the many injured and changed forever by the acts of two Columbine High seniors on April 20, 1999.

My mother at the memorial.

To me, this should have been a clarion call for major reforms in gun controls, mental health, and school protocols. Sadly the killing in schools just keeps happening. What have we really learned from Columbine?

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