Student walkouts planned in response to Florida school shooting
- High schools might see walkouts in the coming months as students plan protests to draw attention to gun policy following the shooting in Parkland, FL, last week in which 17 people were killed, according to Newsweek.
- In a petition posted on Change.org, organizers are asking students to walk out on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in which 13 people were killed. “The majority of teenagers have no right to vote, leaving our voice unheard. The government does not hear or care how these tragedies affect our lives,” says to the petition, which so far has over 43,000 signatures.
The official Twitter page of the Women’s March is announcing another walkout, organized by Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, on March 14. #ENOUGH and #NationalSchoolWalkout are the hashtags being used. And a March 24 March for Our Lives involving students and families is being organized in Washington D.C., according to CNN.
Jonathan Zimmerman, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania, suggested the idea of a nationwide student walkout in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed on Friday. “If our nation’s kids refused to come back to the classroom until Congress acted, Congress would act,” he wrote.
Knowing about such events in advance can give school leaders an opportunity to ask students to express their feelings and opinions in ways other than walking out during school hours. If students proceed with protests, administrators can call for students and teachers to demonstrate peacefully and return to school. It’s also important to make sure students are aware of the consequences of these actions, such as having an unexcused absence or perhaps not being able to make up missed assignments.
In September, students walked out of school in places such as Denver and Phoenix to protest President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Students in Denver received unexcused absences while school officials also walked with students for safety reasons. With growing efforts to give students more of a voice in their education, school leaders have to balance respect for students’ freedom of speech rights with their responsibilities to maintain order and protect the learning environment. Organizing alternative events, such as bringing in guest speakers for special assemblies or creating incentives for students to skip the walkout, are a few ways to discourage students from participating.
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