Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors.
After the tragic events in Parkland, there has been a movement of students about the issue of school safety. Recently, someone asked my opinion on the idea of student protests, walkouts, and the threat of punishment.
I think that everyone wants our youth to be thoughtful and involved in the world around them. The First Amendment grants, “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” With this in mind, I believe that students have the right to protest and have a well-planned and organized walkout. Students availing themselves of their right to protest in support of safer schools is not only noble, but also has the potential of enacting the discussion that we need to have.
I would urge schools and teachers to not punish students for airing the concerns and make sure that the situation remained safe.
We want students to be thoughtful members of society. We want students to be problem solvers. We want students to be active in their communities.
I am not saying that they should protest everything as an excuse to get out of school. This situation is unique and deserves attention.
Educator John Dewey once stated, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” Let students experience life. There should be no punishment, no threats of retaliation. Teachers should not assign things during that time as punishment. Something need to change. In fact, I believe that teachers should join them to provide guidance, safety, and support.
Being a member of a democracy is work. Finding out what is important is work. Students should have the right to protest this event. We need safe schools and have serious discussions about them.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.