{solsc} #sol18 14/31 Walkout Thoughts




I first began writing a letter to students supporting their decision to walk out of schools today. But they didn't need my words to validate them. Plenty of other adults are walking with them and supporting them. The news channels are covering the walkouts and talking to the students. So this is really for adults.




Today was the #NationalSchoolWalkout where thousands of our nation's youth walked out of their schools in protest of our nation's gun laws. They aren't asking for all guns to be taken. They are asking for common sense gun laws. There is another movement out there. Pictures have been posted that share something about Walk Up instead of Walk Out. Adults telling kids what they should do instead of walking out.

  • Walk up to 17 people you wouldn't normally talk to
  • Sit at lunch with the kid who sits alone
  • Be a partner to someone who never has one
  • thank your teachers
There are different variations, but all of them are telling students what they should do instead. And these are good ideas. And I would love this to happen in the world as we know it. With adults. Not just in our schools. 

Here's my problem--ADULTS are TELLING them what to do. These walkouts are student-led and they need to know their voices are being heard. These students are afraid of dying. I know ten-year-olds who are afraid to go to school. If student voice really matters, like school officials are fond of telling us, then we should follow the lead of these students. We shouldn't tell them what to do or punish them for engaging in acts of civil disobedience.

I don't understand why adults are so surprised by this student-led movement. Most big change in this country has started with young adults. Young adults with passion and enthusiasm, who aren't afraid of the repercussions of those in charge, who aren't tied to the status quo. 

We want students to advocate for themselves. We TEACH students to advocate for themselves. We want them to come to us if they are being bullied, if someone is abusing them. We want them to tell us if they see something.

This is what they are doing.

If we don't listen now, will they ever come to us again?

And I don't believe that they are walking out just to get out of class. I'm listening to very articulate young people who have very personal reasons for wanting to upgrade to the gun laws. We teach them about their civic duty. These walkouts are putting what they are taught into action. Students don't just become well-informed citizens when they turn 18. We need to start the engagement early, so they are invested in their world when the time comes for them to vote and lead.

As I listen to these students speak today, I want you to know, I don't believe this is a one day activity. This is not a one year movement. These young adults are serious about preventing more gun deaths. They are researching and learning. They will register to vote on November 6. Many more will vote in 2020. They are leading the way. Maybe we should start listening.

Comments

  1. Thanks for this articulate post in support of our young people. I want their voices to be heard and hope they can lead the way on this issue.

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  2. Students need adults like you who believe in them and support them. i find it admirable that young people are thinking and taking action.

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  3. Well said, Deb! Something needs to change and these students have a voice that is being heard.

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  4. I agree this was so well said. We say we listen to kids and then turn around and tell them what to do, how to feel. I hope you are right that this isn't just for today. I hope their voices rise for days, months, years to come. We need to listen!

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  5. Thank you for this insightful take. As adults we do our students and ourselves a huge disservice by underestimating their capabilities. They are showing leadership, clarity of purpose, and drive. I agree with you that if we don't listen now, then when?

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  6. This is so well said. The student leaders are articulate. They know what they believe, and they want to be heard. I think they may adopt ideas similar to those suggestions because they go with their message. But they are smart and will organize in the way that speaks to them and their peers. They are voices we need to hear.

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  7. I love this post, Deb. You echoed so many of my own thoughts and feelings. Sadly, we didn't have any students find their bravery and voice today to walk out. But I agree with you. This is not going away. These kids are not going to stand for this. I anticipate larger numbers of students participating each time. I hope every school in the country empties out on March 24, consequences or no!

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    1. You are the reason I finally put my words out there. After I read your post yesterday, I knew I couldn't stay silent.

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  8. I've seen the 'other' comments, too. Many do not know the history, as you wrote: "Most big change in this country has started with young adults." The responses seen cynical, like "this is the way it's always been, so you might as well not march, won't do any good." Thanks for the great words of support, Deb.

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    1. All change is hard, especially when it seems to affect your "rights". But I've never believed that one person's rights should infringe on another's.

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  9. Kids should not be afraid to go to school, it should be a safe place to go . A Parent should never have to fear for their child's life when they are in school, and a teacher should never have to fear for their life either. Something needs to be done immediately! I can't even imagine the horror that these children and parents of the victims have gone through.

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    1. And this is the most important thing. Kids should feel safe.

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  10. The "walk up" posts have been bothering me. I feel like it says "if only someone had been nice to that boy he wouldn't have killed them all." But the students have all been very vocal about the fact that they have been afraid of him for a long time. We have to let kids know we'll take that seriously. Fear is a protection our brains give us.

    I also don't like it because I feel like it is adults saying, "Just be quiet and go back to school. Don't make a fuss!" It feels like when people try to silence victims of sexual assault.

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    1. Most of the recent movements have that feeling of people trying to shush them. "Why are you speaking up now?" "Just shut up and dribble" All of them. I'm thinking that the establishment won't be able to keep them all quiet. It's why I think these students will keep up the pressure.

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  11. Oh I'm quite proud of this student-led movement. We tell them all the time to speak up when they see something that isn't right. And yet, now that they are we're telling them to be silent? That's a double standard and it's unacceptable.

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    1. Exactly. We can't tell them to speak up about some things but be quiet about others. I'm glad they are not listening.

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  12. Yes, Deb, we should listen to the students' voices whether they are silent in their protest or vocal. They have a right to be heard.

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  13. Deb,

    These are the EXACT words I've been looking for in response to our students' efforts. It's frustrating to me that adults outside of the educational setting seem to automatically dismiss young adults' ideas and efforts. Some of the smartest and most insightful people I've ever met are those that have walked through the doors of my classroom, and they have had important things to say.
    Thank you for this post! :)

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