To the editor:

As parents of children in the Minnetonka School District, we’re angry and grieving after last week’s massacre in the Uvalde elementary school. Our children are depressed, afraid, confused, and justifiably furious.

After all, as adults, we keep letting them down. We keep letting this happen.

While we appreciate our district’s acknowledgement of the tragedy via email, and the description of efforts to increase security, these are not sufficient. Consider the words of Superintendent Dennis Peterson:

“Our very best strategy, as a school community, to prevent such incidents, is to ensure all of our students have a strong sense of belonging in our schools.”

We respectfully disagree.

In this context, the word ‘belonging’ is meant as a salve, a panacea; it’s as if it has the power to encompass the collective struggles of our diverse children and, somehow, solve them all.

It does not.

Solutions require specificity, and we cannot draft adequate policy if we’re afraid to be specific about the physical and emotional dangers our students face every day.

How can we address the discrimination that our non-white, non-Christian, and LGBTQ+ communities are facing if we can’t say the words “diversity, equity, and inclusion?” How can we help our students process the trauma of too-frequent mass shootings if we ask them to be quiet about these events around their peers? How can our children believe that we take their feelings and lives seriously if we can’t even use adult language to talk about our problems?

We owe them more than performative grief and theatrical goals. As adults, it’s our job to channel our pain into making a better, safer world for our children through specific policy solutions:

On mental health.

On diversity, equity, and inclusion.

On health care and bodily autonomy.

On physical and emotional safety.

We implore our School District to open an adult dialog with its student and parent community; use language that does not minimize or diminish; and offer specific solutions to the real dangers, fears, and anxieties our students face.

‘Belonging’ isn’t enough.

Dan Olson

Minnetonka

Dr. Mike Remucal

Chanhassen

Remucal and Olson were both candidates for the Minnetonka School Board in 2021

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