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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

School social workers, teachers mourn Milwaukee and Texas students killed by gun violence

People on stage in the rain
Emily Files
MPS social workers Angela Green and Courtney Chavez (left) were joined by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore at a rally against gun violence Wednesday, a day after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas.

Teachers, school social workers and activists rallied against gun violence Wednesday in Milwaukee. U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore joined them in the pouring rain, which she called tears.

"Y’all, these are tears," Moore said. "These are the tears of all those parents in the past, and the tears of future parents — maybe even us — if we don’t do something, y’all."

The Milwaukee rally took place one day after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers.

But the rally was actually planned a month ago by MPS school social workers who are fed up with their students becoming victims of gun violence.

Katie Kuick works at Bay View High School, which lost Teonna Covington, a 17-year-old student and new mother in a road rage shooting about a month ago.

"This one was an especially hard one just because she was a new mom and she was in a car," Kuick said. "We’re all in cars all the time. But luckily, I consider myself good at compartmentalizing and trying to leave work at work, but I also have three small children myself. So it was hard."

The social workers say 15 MPS students have been killed by people with guns this school year.

Emily Files
Sienna Binns, a student at Riverside University High School, spoke about the children killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. "Kid are dying, they didn't even get to live their life yet. Why? For what reason?"

The group also mourned for the students and teachers killed in Texas. Jennifer Erickson is a social worker at the Academy of Accelerated Learning, an MPS elementary school.

"It’s terrifying," she said. "We have safety drills all the time and no child should have to go through that."

Erickson said her school routinely runs code red drills to prepare for the worst case scenario.

"Unfortunately you can’t even tell the kids it’s a drill because they want to make it as real to real life as possible," Erickson said. "So the kids have to gather —  lock the doors, turn off the lights and gather in a safe place in the classroom, the least likely place they would get shot or if there was an intruder that they could be found. And they have to remain silent. And it’s inevitable that kids are crying because they think it’s real."

Another social worker, Courtney Chavez, has a daughter in fourth grade — the same grade as the students killed in Texas.

"You just give them a hug and kiss, tell them you love them, and just pray to God that their school will be safe and that nothing will happen," Chavez said.

The social workers and activists at Wednesday's rally said more needs to be done beyond praying. They urged people to call their representatives and vote for politicians who will restrict access to guns.

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