FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 18, 2022
The governor’s lack of leadership leaves Texas students and educators returning to school campuses with fear and anxiety.
AUSTIN, Texas — In the 86 days since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has taken no meaningful action to reduce the chances of tragedy in this school year, earning straight F’s on a school safety report card issued by the Texas American Federation of Teachers with support from gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action.
The report card gives Abbott failing grades on the following items related to school safety and response to the Uvalde shooting:
- FAILING TO call an emergency legislative session to address gun safety
- FAILING TO demand the Legislature raise the legal age for buying assault rifles from 18 to 21
- FAILING TO hold Department of Public Safety officials accountable for the 77-minute wait to respond to the Uvalde shooter
- FAILING TO show sympathy and providing comfort for families of Uvalde victims by attending their funerals
- FAILING TO do everything in his power as governor to prevent another school shooting
“Rather than spend the summer addressing the issue of gun violence in our schools — something that 90% of Texas school employees worry about — the governor has continued his political attacks on our public schools,” said Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT and a former teacher himself. “Gov. Abbott has time to do press conferences about school voucher schemes, but he won’t show the most basic respect for educators and students by doing everything possible to prevent another tragedy like Uvalde.”
Capo’s remarks reference a survey conducted by Texas AFT in June about school safety and gun violence, in which 90% of Texas school employees surveyed said they had worried about a shooting happening at their school. In that same survey, 97% of the 5,100 Texans who responded indicated that they want significant action on guns. Leading solutions included:
- instituting comprehensive background checks on all gun purchases (87% support among all Texans, 99% support among school employees)
- red-flag laws to prevent people experiencing extreme emotional or mental health issues from buying guns (87% support among all Texans, 98% support among school employees)
- raising the minimum age for legal gun purchases to 21 (85% support among all Texans, 96% support among school employees)
Meanwhile, Texas AFT has heard from members statewide that the one action Gov. Abbott has taken in terms of “school hardening” is the source of increased anxiety for teachers, staff, and students alike. The governor’s directive to Texas State University’s Texas School Safety Center to conduct unannounced random intruder audits on campuses promises to make a stressful return to school even more difficult.
“At a time when our districts are struggling to fill hundreds of vacancies because of the disrespect shown to educators by state leadership, the governor’s inaction after Uvalde will make the crisis even worse,” Capo said. “Fewer and fewer want to work in a job that gives them no guarantee they or the kids in their class will come home at the end of the day.”
Texas parents too have expressed concerns for their children’s safety at school this fall — and disillusionment with the governor’s inaction.
“Gov. Abbott’s response to the shooting at Robb Elementary, like his responses to every other mass tragedy in Texas, has been nothing short of an abject failure,” said Liz Hanks, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action. “He has shown us time and time again that he is unwilling to choose public safety over politics and gun industry profits, and Texans are sick of paying the price. We want real gun safety solutions and real leaders who will work to keep our families safe — Gov. Abbott is not up for the task.”