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Tomorrow schools all over the country are gonna be participating in the “march for our lives” walkout. Even though your kid has a better chance of being killed by a swarm of bees than they do in a mass shooting. Uncle Turtleboy talked about it on the late night garage podcast:
Some schools are doing it right. I’ve seen Fitchburg, Worcester, and many other districts doing a 17 minute walkout to commemorate the 17 who were killed in Parkland, FL. That’s fine. A lot of schools still do that on September 11. There’s nothing wrong with a school taking a small amount of time to pay respects to the dead, even if we did not know them personally.
But where I draw the line is when schools sanction a protest. It’s the job of public schools to remain neutral in all political conversations. It’s not their job to use the influence and authority that teachers and administrators posses to make kids feel like one political opinion is moral, and the other is immoral. And any school sanctioned event that is protesting for stricter gun laws is doing just that.
— Katie Bowler (@katiebowler_SJ) February 28, 2018
One of those schools is The Kennedy School School (K-8), which sent this email out to parents of middle school aged children yesterday:
As you’re probably well aware we’re currently in the middle of a challenging but important national conversation about school safety. Our school leadership were recently approached by a grade 7 student representative informing us of student intent to participate in the nationally organized March 14th walkout to support school safety and against gun violence in schools. I’m communicating this to you so that you can discuss with your child and decide how your family wants to proceed.
First of all, who is in favor of gun violence? Who are we protesting against here? Literally everyone except for mass murderers opposes gun violence. This is like having a walkout because we’re opposed to cancer. No one is in favor of cancer. Standing up to voice your displeasure about gun violence is one of the safest and most pointless forms of protest a human being can participate in.
Students have let us know that the planned student-led protest will occur in two phases.
Phase 1 is a 17-minute school-monitored sit-in in the front of the Kennedy School, memorializing the 17 student victims of the Parkland shooting, starting at 10:00 AM.
This is fine.
This is not fine:
Phase 2 will be devised by the students at the student-led workshop and may involve students traveling to the State House to protest. Understandably this may be more suitable to high school students – the district has sent you a lettter with details on this.
In the spirit of making this a teachable moment for 6, 7, and 8th grade middle school students who have decided that they want to participate, one of our teachers has volunteered to supervise an after-school workshop on behavior, expectations and the context of student protests. We will also supervise students who walk-out on school grounds to ensure their safety – I know this is a concern of many parents given that our students are so young.
Why are 6th graders being invited to a school sanctioned protest at the State House? Massachusetts already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, so what are they even protesting? This is just an excuse to get out of school.
The young leaders of the #StudentsAgainstGunViolence movement are breathtaking in their eloquence, commitment, and courage. Watch for them on all the Boston news channels, I guarantee they will make you proud. #SomervilleHS #WalkoutWednesday pic.twitter.com/NqbuMqz6VA
— Leah Bloom (@LeahBloom) February 28, 2018
Oh, and here’s a question – how are they getting there? Because according to people who are emailing us, the kids are all taking the MBTA. This is why we pay taxes? So that our teachers can force their political agenda down our kid’s throats? So that they can encourage our kids to be truant and skip class in the name of gun laws that already exist? So that teachers can neglect their duties to teach assigned subjects in order to ride the subway with a bunch of 13 year olds?
We are requesting that students who are attending the walk-out attend a 15-minute student-led workshop to learn more about the goals of the protest, and the associated behavior expectations. These workshops are Tuesday, March 13, at 7:45 am, and Tuesday, March 13, at 2:45 pm, in Room 221. Grade 7-8, Social Studies Teacher, Ms. Brady will be aiding the student led workshop and the March 14 walkout at 10 AM. (snow date – March 14th at 7:45am)
It is important to clarify that the after-school mini-lessons and the walk out are 100% voluntary and the decision to participate is up to individual students and families. Our focus is to supervise any activities which occur on school grounds.
Translation – going to class is also voluntary. For the kids who are not truant they will be forced to hand in their homework on time and take tests or quizzes that day. For the kids who take advantage of this opportunity to skip school and play in the subway, they’ll get an extension. In other words, Somerville Middle School is rewarding truancy.
The bottom line is that this solves nothing. My kid will be going to school like he normally does. He’ll be going to class like he’s supposed to. He’ll be participating in the 17 minute moment of silence because he respects human life. But he won’t be going on a school sanctioned urban safari, because I raised him to be better than that.