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Tag: student protest movement

Why we should respect student protests

There are always a few. Not content to let history teach a giant, life-altering civics lesson, there will be a few school administrators who won’t respect students’ First Amendment rights to join the groundswell movement of student protests against gun violence, because it’s “too disruptive.”

We owe it to these kids to respect their fear and their feelings NOW. No one wants to live with a target on her back. Seeking the chance to “LIVE in order to LEARN” is NOT an unreasonable request!

When I was a high school journalism teacher, I saw this impulse first-hand. The traditional impulse of many schools is to keep the kids quiet, out of the way, and docile. The Paradigm of Control runs crosswise to the First Amendment (also to critical thinking).

Even more than corporations, kids are people, my friend. They have rights, weirdly enough including the rights of free speech, to freely assemble, and to petition the government. In my research for yesterday’s post, I found a quote that seemed à propos of the #ENOUGH movement and students’ rights in general.

People tend to place children in some kind of sub-human category, maybe a little higher than pets (or maybe not). That’s always bothered me. Even when they’re too young to be completely autonomous, they always, ALWAYS deserve respect.

It may be more time-consuming to reason with the child (and–reality check–parents sometimes have to just decide), but in my experience it’s always worth listening, explaining, and respecting. In the household, in the classroom, and in life, it just always works out better to listen and to respect. (Remember, they’re the ones who’ll pick your nursing home).

I also stumbled across a fun website built on that very principle: Kid President (unfortunately suspended in 2016, it seems). But in the spirit of the student protests and the message of this post, here’s a word of wisdom from Kid President:

You’ve now been schooled. Go forth and respect!

IMAGES: Many thanks to to the Mankato Free PressAP images, and Jim Mone, for the photo of the student protest in Mankato, MN, from which I cropped a detail for emphasis; to Gryphon House via Pinterest for the quote and image from Stacia Tauscher, and to OdysseyRobby and Brad, for the Kid President quote/image.

#ENOUGH

A month ago today on February 14, 2018, one of the deadliest mass school shootings occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, USA. Along with a lot of my compatriots, I braced myself for the usual round of reactions, because this is very far from a situation without precedent in my homeland. My fellow Americans and I knew what always seems to come next.

People evacuate Stoneman Douglas High School in the wake of the shooting Feb. 14, 2018, in this Getty Images photo by Joe Raedle

The dismay, the grief, the outrage.

The thoughts and prayers.

The talk about “maybe this time–finally–things will be different.”

The calls for gun control (knowing nothing will probably happen).

The calls for better mental health care (unfunded, of course).

The arguments about good guys versus bad guys that have never yet seemed rooted in practical reality to me.

The legislative attempts that no one can get quite enough people behind, to pass.

The “must pass” bills that accrue amendments like barnacles. then sink under their weight.

The gradual subsidence into the previous status quo.

This 2013 cartoon by Jeffrey Koterba of the Omaha World-Herald is just as right-on in 2018–except as of Feburary the child is standing up to demand change.

Except this time something different happened. The surviving students of Stoneman Douglas High School didn’t wait for the adults to figure it out. They stood up and said, “#ENOUGH.” They walked out in protest. They went to the state capitol and demanded change.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School decided to take direct action into their own hands.

They stood together. They stood strong. And pretty soon other kids stood with them. In spite of some administrators’ threats to punish them, students all over the country began to stand up and say “we’re tired of being targets while you adults argue!

March 7, 2018 student protests at the Minnesota state capitol in Mankato–AP Photo by Jim Mone.
Pittsfield, MA students from Taconic High School march on Feb. 27, 2018 in solidarity with the students of Stoneman Douglas High School–photo by Gillian JonesBerkshire Eagle via AP.

Today, on the one-month anniversary of the shooting, students from all over the country will walk out of class in solidarity with the Stoneman Douglas students–including students from our local Kansas City area schools–most with the (wise) blessing of their administrators. So far the legislative responses have been mixed, but as a former high school journalism teacher I am here to tell you that experiences like this don’t soon fade from a young person’s memory.

And even though some of the kids on these protest marches are currently too young to vote, I’m willing to bet they won’t forget this experience once they are old enough. If I were a sitting legislator, I’d be taking note of that.

IMAGES: Many thanks to NPR, Steve InskeepGetty Images, and Joe Raedle for the photo of students evacuating Stoneman Douglas High after the attack on Feb. 14; to Politic365 and Jeffrey Koterba of the Omaha World-Herald for the cartoon; to CNN for the photo of Stoneman Douglas students protesting; to the Mankato Free PressAP images, and Jim Mone, for the photo of the student protest in Mankato, MN; to AL.com (Advance Local/Alabama Media Group), The Berkshire EagleAP Images, and Gillian Jones for the photo of Taconic High School students marching in Pittsfield, MA on Feb. 27, 2018 in solidarity with the Florida students; 

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