Tag Archives: Students

#Enough… Calling Students “Dumb”

Audience: Parents and others who support the 2018 Walk Out to remember Parkland school shooting and call for action relating to gun control.

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Thousands of students walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday morning. At 10:00 until 10:17,  they rallied in silent protest and in remembrance of the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting one month prior. Some students held inspiring signs, other students banded together to form peace signs or phrases like the trending hashtag #enough. There were beautiful blogs and news articles highlighting the walkout…others were strongly against the walkout.

Why is it so hard to pass by with a simple click of the like button and NOT read the comments? It never fails to drag me in. How many times on Wednesday did I stop and put my two cents in when someone says “This is so dumb. Why don’t they do something productive that can actually bring change?” ARG! I feel an overwhelming sense of, I don’t know, rage? And just like that my fingers are on that keyboard like wildfire, feeling like maybe I can just change one person’s mind…unlikely I know, but I just can’t help myself!

These protests are not dumb. These students are working to bring about change. People who don’t believe one person can make a change, let alone a whole generation of students, made me think of the Tunisia Revolution of 2011. In Castells Prelude to Revolution, he tells how one person can indeed make a difference. In Tunisia a man ignited the spark of a revolution by literally setting himself on fire. A little more dramatic than we hopefully need here in the good ole USA.

Support our kids who want to feel safe in their schools. They can’t vote (yet!) so they are asking, begging for our help. Stand with this generation. They are powerful. They will not back down. I won’t either. So go ahead– unfriend me, unfollow me, block me. I’ll keep my thumbs on the ready to defend and encourage the students and other fed up citizens who are fighting for change.

Walk Out or Walk Up?

My audience for this blog series is anyone who is (or should be) concerned by the massive number of school shootings: students, parents, and anyone interested in safety and social justice. I will be focusing on the movements made by high school students who have been taking charge of the fight against gun violence. My goal is to make people think about how they can participate in this fight for life.

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If you’ve watched the news over the past few days you are probably aware of the  Walk Out by students across the country on Wednesday. Sick of nothing being done in Washington about gun violence, teens coordinated the first national student protest on this issue. They hoped to bring an awareness of their voices and of the political power that they will soon hold. And politicians should take note- these teens, users of social media for most of their lives, will soon be old enough to vote and make their voices known at the polls. Boomers and Generation X have so far not been as focused on this topic, and it may be because they were not affected by it personally. And millenials, still a voting minority, have not made much progress with it either in spite of being the Columbine generation. Living in daily fear of school violence is a way of life for students, unfortunately normalized by our political climate and dedication to 2nd Amendment rights. But why isn’t anything being done? Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough anymore, and these students want us all to know that.

But of course there are those with the alternative solution. A solution that so far hasn’t worked. Ryan Petty, a parent of a student recently killed in the Parkland shooting, tweeted that students should Walk Up not Walk Out. In his opinion, walking out is accomplishing nothing beyond the students getting some exercise. His proposed solution would include students “walking up” to loners and making them feel appreciated so they don’t turn into school shooters. This post was in turn shared by thousands of parents across the country who thought students walking out was pointless. But I ask- is this victim blaming? If you aren’t successful with converting this potential shooter and it results in violence, is it your fault? Walk Up shows how out of touch some parents still are with the fear that children are facing, and in this case even includes parents of victims.

Walk Up belittles the point of Walk Out. No one is saying that you can’t walk up to a lonely student and talk to them, but that can be done any other day. This walk out was about the fact that these students want to be heard. They want the adults to help them. They want laws to protect them. They want politicians to represent them. On Wednesday, they didn’t need hugs- they needed voices.

This movement reminds me of Castell’s writings about the Occupy Movement, and there are plenty of similarities. Occupy was “rooted in outrage” (p. 166) which resulted in the fast propagation across the country. Students are clearly outraged about their peers being shot, and that resulted in a successfully organized protest in less than a month after the Parkland, Florida shooting. Everyone needs to be wary of the power that these children will one day hold. Their world is built around social media, and they are not limited to classroom gossip anymore.

We need to listen. Really listen to what they are saying. We may not agree with everything that they are asking for, but with what they have been through, they deserve our ears. Instead of thoughts and prayers we need to think about what we can do to make their world a little safer. So don’t belittle their voices by saying that they should be doing something else instead. Listen.

They will not forget.