This week a nationally-organized walkout took place in schools throughout the United States. Some say that it was primarily intended to honor those who were killed or injured in the Parkland shooting, and I guess that at most schools there was some kind of memorial gathering where those students were remembered.
It is apparent to me that these walkouts were politically motivated, and an opportunity to use children to influence public opinion about gun control. I say “apparent” because of the obvious organization. Note the t-shirts in the picture above. A child at a middle school in the comment section of a local Chicago-area newspaper mentioned that they were “helped” by people from the Women’s March organization to prepare for their walkout. Another middle school student said he was one of the organizers and thought it was inappropriate to voice pro second amendment beliefs at a “gun control protest”.
This post isn’t about my beliefs about guns and gun control. It is about the role of public schools in political activism, and the “education” of children in a particular philosophy, rather than history and facts, allowing the children to weigh all the facts and reach their own conclusions.
Benzel says she never discouraged her students from participating in the national school walk out, but she did question whether it’s appropriate for a school to support a protest against gun violence if they’re not willing to support all protests.
“And so I just kind of used the example which I know it’s really controversial, but I know it was the best example I thought of at the time—a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration?” she said.
She says the administration didn’t talk to her about her lecture, last week.
But while thousands of students walked out of class, Mrs. Benzel received a letter from her human resources department, informing her she’s being placed on paid administrative leave.
“I didn’t get any backlash from my students. All my students totally understood that there could not be a double standard,” she said.
My opinion is that it is great that students want to protest peacefully for something they believe in. I don’t think protests should be organized or sanctioned by public schools, or that teachers and schools should be encouraging or pushing students politically in one direction or another. If students want to protest, let them organize outside of school, and outside of normal school hours.