I’m so mad at the school district for doing this to our students

 

Dear students at our local high school,

Okay, so I heard about the letter you just got from the district, the letter that states you are not allowed to participate in the #ENOUGH National School Walkout on March 14th. Not a loud protest. Not a violent demonstration. You simply want to honor the victims of the shooting in Parkland by quietly walking outside and having seventeen minutes of silence and then walking back inside.

But the district came right out and said no. You are not allowed to participate in this nationally-organized peaceful protest. They stated clearly in their letter that anyone who leaves the classroom to participate will be given an unexcused absence and will not be allowed to retake any texts or quizzes or assignments they miss. So if you have a test at that time, F. If you have a presentation at that time, F. If you have a quiz at that time, F. You get an A for honoring the fallen and standing up for what you believe in and exercising one of the most important rights we have in this country, but what the colleges will see is a big fat F.

And why? Because the district claims that the walkout will be too disruptive. Too disruptive. Hmmmmm.

Hey district, on behalf of these students who can’t really say what they think because they are at your mercy, I would like to say something. Are you kidding me? TOO DISRUPTIVE?!!! Do you know what’s disruptive? A gunman coming into your school and killing as many people as he can with an AR-15. That’s disruptive.

So, students, I think it sucks that your district is belittling your rights. I know that that most of the other districts around here are supporting their students and using this as a teaching moment about peaceful protesting. I’m sorry that yours thinks seventeen little minutes in an entire school year is too much of a bother. I hope that they never have a REAL disruption here because if they do, I think they’ll quickly realize that a seventeen-minute disruption is nothing. Sometimes the little disruptions are important because they are what stop the big ones.

But here’s the thing, it is not the district’s decision. It is YOUR decision as the protestors. Protests were never meant to be easy. Is this protest worth it to you? For decades people have been making this decision. Is it worth it to stay seated on the bus and be arrested? Is it worth to sit at a counter and have food thrown on your head? Is it worth it to march against the Vietnam War and have the National Guard fire on you? Is it worth it to sit down, to lie down, to stop eating, to build tree houses, to march with signs, to go to jail? Is it worth it to miss seventeen minutes of your school day and maybe fail a test to stand up for something you believe in? Maybe that F is worth it. Maybe it’s not. That’s for you to decide, not your school district.

Come Wednesday, if you decide it’s worth it to honor the victims and to demand change, then go for it. Walk out. Just because you are younger doesn’t mean your opinion is less important. Your beliefs matter. And if you are going to be the future of this country, you have the right to say what that future should look like.

Sincerely,
A mom who would like to give an F to the district for telling the students they cannot participate in a national walkout

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There are 28 comments for this article
  1. Sharon k at 8:08 pm

    I recently saw a post from my sons college saying that any applying student that has this kind of protest or grades that are affected by this kind of action should let the college know as they would not allow it to influence and admissions decisions.

  2. KC at 8:10 pm

    Yup, it sucks that the kids have been told there will be severe repercussions and impacts if they honor the 17. I used to tell our girls that it always took courage to do the right thing, and that usually, the RIGHT thing was the HARD thing.

    But, hey, here’s an alternative…(haters, please scroll on without espousing more hate; I’m here to offer an alternative, and it’s only a suggestion!) How about, instead of walking OUT, the kids walk UP. Walk UP to the loner, the bullied, the depressed, the oddball kid.

    Yes, NO CIVILIAN, of ANY age, needs one of those types of guns. I agree, wholeheartedly. The 2nd Amendment, which I hold dear, was certainly not written with mass-murder weapons in mind. Those weapons are for MURDER, not self-protection. Agreed.

    But, a lot of the school shootings seem (to me, anyway) to be instigated by youngsters with mental health or anxiety issues. Often these issues are evident long before any actions are taken. Why are we allowing these kids to go unnoticed, untreated? What would it take for a “good” kid to go up and defend/befriend a bullied kid? Courage, sure. Guts, sure. But we know our kids have courage; we know our kids have guts. Just the fact that they are entertaining notions of going against the school district mandate proves that.

    I, personally, know that I’d have been appreciative of anyone that had come up to me and said, hey, ya need a friend? during my formative years. Nope, didn’t get anything like that. Just got more and more bullied because I had a big nose and was new to the neighborhood. Add in being the only Jewish kid in school, and you had a recipe for a lonely, solitary teen that developed into a lonely, solitary and depressed young lady. Yes, I contemplated suicide (and tried it a few times!) many times, but I never thought mass revenge was the answer. There were certainly a few I’d considered taking out, but I didn’t really have the knowledge or access at that time. Nowadays, knowledge and access to weapons are much more attainable. Friends, on the other hand, are still hard to come by for some.

    So, how about, be strong, have courage, be a friend. And if your friend is a threat, TELL SOMEONE who has the capability to DO something about it. BEFORE it’s a disturbance.

    That’s all, rant over. Thanks for your time & ears, and letting me say a bit. Thank you for always bringing the important stuff up to see the light of day.

  3. Mary Schneider at 8:20 pm

    I wonder if it has occured to anyone to organize a class action lawsuit against the district for infringement upon the student’s constitutional rights?

    As to the “walk up” instead of out idea- fine. But why not both? Change is not exclusive. Kids can acknowledge the problem, honor the fallen AND act for change. Let’s stop belittling kids’ rights to express their rights, shall we?

    • CANDY Stanwood at 8:40 pm

      No one is saying the kids can’t protest, but it needs to be done on their time.
      You try walking out of your job in the middle of your shift to protest, guarantee there will be consequences for your actions.
      This is what the school is referring to as far as a disruption.

    • Sammy at 9:39 pm

      ACLU has said they will help anyone file a lawsuit if protestors are given any punishment worse than what is normally given for an I excused absence.

  4. Kristin Koolkin Magnant at 8:22 pm

    My almost 14 year-old is leading a walk out at her Middle School–with the permission of her principal. They’ve got about 1/4 of the kids in all 3 grades involved. Her feeling is that they need to speak up whenever they see injustice in the world and do what they can to correct it. This is a poem she wrote after the Parkland shooting (and her school had lockdowns for 3 consecutive days due to a ‘murder list’ being sent to students and teachers, so the active shooter drill feels very real to her.)

    I have a hoarse voice from all the things I’m not saying-
    To Trump, to our government, to the NRA,
    To the hundreds of thousands of indifferent people who stare at their TV screens
    Their newspapers
    To see more lives lost again today
    To those to shrug and look deep into their coffee mugs instead of their minds
    Just another day, another couple of kids dead-
    Is this the new normal?

    No.
    No, this was never normal-
    Not this, not the indifference,
    The people who were remembered only because remembering them made you look good,
    The screaming mothers and fathers in shock all staring at the empty beds left unmade
    Not daring to touch what might be the last thing they have left of their child
    This is not normal
    This is hell.

    And to Trump-

    You might has well have held the gun yourself.
    You, all of you in office,
    Those of you who supported letting mentally disturbed CHILDREN have guns
    Those of you who didn’t even say anything-
    Goddamnit, you are just as bad.
    Mothers who lost their children will not forgive you.
    Siblings who lost their heroes will not forgive you.
    Friends who lost the best people in their world will not forgive you.
    Students who lost their teachers and saw them die will not forgive you.
    All of us, in heaven, in hell, on Earth,
    Will not forgive you.

    All of us have a job to do
    To fight, without guns, without AR-15s and without whatever weapons used in
    Florida
    Maryland
    California
    Kentucky
    Louisiana
    Texas
    Arizona

    I have only been through one lockdown because of a shooting threat
    And I know you don’t want to hear it, but you have to
    People bringing phones to gym
    Texting their parents between classes, and I’ve seen screens
    Please pick me up
    I’m scared
    There’s a school shooting threat
    I saw people hear noises outside and look at each other with dark looks
    I heard people discussing in quiet voices what they would do if they died
    I saw the bravest people I know look around for an escape and a hiding place
    I had to comfort people who were crying
    I saw people hugging people and telling them they would miss them
    Because we were so certain that someone would come and kill us
    We were thirteen and we were repeating to ourselves
    I’m not afraid
    I’m not afraid
    I’m not afraid
    And we were all
    So
    Terrified

    And that was only a threat.

    So imagine if you are able
    Seeing your best friend die
    Seeing your teachers shot
    Hearing your child is dead
    Picture your loved ones torn from you
    Dead at your feet
    See them shot and killed in your mind
    Whatever
    It
    Takes
    For
    You
    To
    UNDERSTAND
    AND
    DO
    SOMETHING

    I don’t even know how to elaborate.
    My voice is gone.

    So, to the government, to the states,
    To the adults, to the children, to the majority,
    The minority, to everyone watching in foreign countries
    As this hell we are living plays out

    Please.
    Help.

  5. KC at 8:23 pm

    No belittling intended; sorry if that was the perception I left you with. And absolutely, take both actions, if one is so moved. All ideas welcome, I think we are all of the same mind that the killing must stop.

  6. KC at 8:26 pm

    Kristin, I can see and hear the pain in your child’s voice. For that, and on her behalf, I’m terribly sorry for the events that have unfolded. She is certainly a child with courage and to be commended!

  7. Susan Rieser at 9:07 pm

    You are so right. The lesson of peaceful protest didn’t end when Ghandi died or Marin Luther King was killed. It is a very teachable moment the school could use to reinforce the concept of the responsibility of the individual in a democracy. Shame on them for taking an easy route.

  8. Wendy at 9:16 pm

    Why not some kind of classroom observance, like 17 moments of silence? That’s we’re doing at middle school. Teachers in our district were told they have to stay in class so this is a doable alternative. High schools in our district have very organized and sanctioned events.

  9. Dawn Carafeno at 4:24 am

    I’m a group leader for Moms Demand Action, Everytown. Though we aren’t making the national walk-out a priority on our agendas, we are supportive of all kids who wish to participate. I personally think it’s crap that this protest is being disallowed by the district. My children would participate if they so desired, no matter what. But it would be their choice. I don’t have a high school aged child right now, I have two in college, one all grown up and then I have my kindergartener and second- grader.

    Our local middle school decided on this compromise to accompany our high-school’s scheduled walk-out:

    “Dear Parents and Guardians of Adams Middle School Students,

    The Adams Student Council has requested and planned a WALK-IN Assembly for 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14th in response to the repeated events of gun violence which have occurred in schools and on campuses across the United States. This assembly is aligned with the nationwide call for students to demonstrate their solidarity to end such acts of violence. We consider this WALK-IN Assembly to be a safe, age-appropriate way for middle school students to express their concerns about school safety and so administration has developed an assembly schedule to minimize the disruption to our school day.

    We recognize that not all students may wish to participate in this assembly, due to the charged nature of this issue and the heightened anxiety and stress felt by many students related to acts of gun violence in schools. Teachers have been directed to provide students who choose not to attend with a pass to the cafeteria. The cafeteria will be supervised by school personnel while the assembly is taking place.

    Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this planned activity, which will allow our students a safe way to respond to recent, upsetting events.

  10. Tracy at 6:18 am

    I totally agree with you on most points. The only thing I, as a teacher at a high school, don’t like about the protest, is that it is planned. It makes me really nervous to announce to everyone, “Hey, we are all going to be outside on this day at this time!” I don’t like the thought of my kids making themselves targets. And they very well could be by doing this. My students, who are at-risk teenagers, are part of the Sandy Hook “Start with Hello” campaign and they travel to elementary and middle schools in our district and teach kids how to approach their peers who appear to be lonely, those who don’t have friends, and start a simple conversation. It is a wonderful program, and something that I truly think is helping kids in our district, on all levels.

    • Mary at 1:55 pm

      Hi Tracy. I also work at a school as a 1:1 Aide and some of our teachers feel the same way. I really like the “Start with Hello”. Such a great idea. I’m encouraging my 7th grader to start this at our school as well.
      Thank you for being a teacher!

  11. Virginia M at 7:13 am

    Too disruptive??

    Ask them how many minutes a quarter they spend doing lock down drills.

    Then remind them that the killers holding AR-15s are the ones causing the disruptions.

    If disruptions are what they care about, they should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the students, not the AR-15 wielders.

  12. Mary at 1:51 pm

    I saw a great post on FB about students protesting and walking out for 17 minutes. My 7th grader is one of them. Here’s a thought….besides standing for 17 minutes these students should start befriending the kids who are eating alone. Kids that are made fun of on a regular basis…start by being their friend. Get to know them. Include these kids in recess activities. Don’t let anyone be a loner. These are the kids…not the popular ones…who are shooting up our schools. I’m understand students being pissed off and afraid to be killed at school and wanting to protest guns being sold to underage mentally ill people. We need to look at the bigger picture. Start at the school level. Kids have the power. I’m all for peaceful protests but there’s more that can be done to ensure that no kid feels they have to shoot up their school to protest how they were treated.

  13. Dawn M Dorf at 3:33 pm

    Truly a shame. Our district has been sending parents e-mails notifying of their plans to accommodate any and all students peacefully walking out, to a safe, designated, teacher-supervised area. It is important to teach students how to respectfully and peacefully demonstrate their beliefs.

  14. Leah at 3:46 pm

    I just want to say that this is a GREAT written article!!
    I agree with every single thing in it.
    But this original protest was NOT to honor the 17 teachers/students, it was supposed to be a walk out to demand more stricter gun control, to have certain guns taken away or all guns.
    But the walk out has turned into “honoring” the 17 people who lost their lives.

    I am a person who believes that guns should be allowed. It’s our right and always has been. Too many people are crazy in today’s world to take guns away from the “good” people.
    We need to be able to protect ourselves as we need to.
    Now if the walk out is to demand more protection in our school, I am ALL for it!! But not to take our guns away.

    I would love it if I went to my kids school and there was multiple officers or retired military workers with large rifles there protecting my children.
    That would give me much more peace about dropping my kids off.
    But we need to know and our kids really need to understand the real “why” that they are walking out of class for.
    Of course there will be some that walks out for 17 minutes just to goof off, but others will walk out for the real reason.

  15. Carol Ann at 8:46 am

    I think you’re completely overlooking the fact that this also screams “oh look, a new target” because it’s widely publicized and planned ahead. It’s dangerous. Point blank. Sorry you’re offended, but the safety of those kids is really what’s important.

    • PirateJenny at 12:52 pm

      I hope you can see that if some sicko targets students on March 14 as they walk out of their school buildings, THAT PERSON is the problem, not the students. I would rather my student make a statement by walking out than cower in fear.

  16. PirateJenny at 12:48 pm

    Agree 100%. Protests are not easy and that’s a good life lesson for kids who do participate in this walkout. I would certainly never punish my kid for any consequence that a school imposed as retaliation for exercising their right to free speech. Instead, I’d be cheering them on.

  17. Mary at 12:52 pm

    I work at a high school and have a daughter in high school (different districts). Both schools are supporting the students, but are choosing to do a walk IN instead of a walk out. Primarily to keep the students safe inside the building. As someone else said, this is widely publicized and who knows what kind of things could happen with all of the kids outside.

  18. Susan Bradford at 10:52 pm

    My kids school is hosting an optional walk out, with guest student speakers to talk about acceptance and inclusion, as well as a speaker from the local sheriff’s dept to talk about safety and reporting troubles. And then they are having 17 minutes of silence. I am glad the district is openly supporting the emotions our kids must be feeling.

  19. Marcy Golston at 11:39 am

    Our little school participated in the walk out. They had a balloon release and a moment of silence. They released 17 balloons and stood outside for 17 minutes. Then they all went back to class. The district made sure every student knew about it so everyone could participate. I love our school and I’m so honored to work there!

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