March 13, 2018

To Everyone Complaining about the National School Walkout.


Not one more.

On March 14th, high school, middle school, and elementary school students across the nation, along with their teachers, administrators, and parents, will walk out of their classrooms and school buildings in active protest of our nation’s lax gun laws and sedated response to the onslaught of mass shootings at schools.

On social media platforms and in “letters to the editor” of news outlets, there seems to be outrage over the condoning of such actions.

“Students will do anything to get out of school,” said one woman on my Facebook wall.

“Why are administrators essentially allowing kids to cut class!” raged another, in a letter to the editor of my local newspaper.

To all those complaining about the National School Walkout, organized by our nation’s young activists, I say this:

By clearly and loudly noting your disdain, by making it known that you do not “approve,” you’ve managed to miss the entire point of an organized, active demonstration or protest.

This planned walkout is both a civics lesson and a history lesson rolled into one. It’s what teachers and parents like to call a “teachable” moment. It’s an example of exercising a liberty granted by our Constitution. It’s democracy in action.

Every voice counts.

Administrators, teachers, and parents who encourage the efforts of all students choosing to demonstrate during the National School Walkout on March 14th are actively supporting and participating in making schools safe again, one changed gun law at a time. Admonishing them over “condoning” it during a school day is silly. It reeks of the “now is not the time to talk about gun control” argument that the gun rights lobby and Republicans in government receiving massive amounts of donations from the N.R.A. have dribbled out for years in response to every tragic mass shooting.

Now is the time. Yes, during a school day a “walkout” has more impact. These students are learning more about the workings of government and individual rights than they ever will from a textbook. Most students would probably rather not “cut or disrupt” class, but the real and rising fear of being shot to death during an average day at school has now overridden their desire to follow all the rules. I, for one, applaud their action.

It’s not an excuse to get out of school. To say so is condescending to those fighting for change. Being a mother, I am very pro young people, and I stand with the students in their quest to finally promote the changes that most of us want. It is the students on the “frontlines” who will ultimately remove the fear and anger from our society. “Not one more,” is the message, and they are delivering it with a side of optimism and spirit that I can’t help but get behind.

The demonstrations of the 60s and 70s helped to finally end a “lost cause” war and uncover corruption. They brought civil rights to the forefront of society. Marches are catalysts for change.

Activism works.

By your scolding, you are attempting to silence and negate what the Parkland kids (and kids all across America) are really doing during this one day planned walkout, which is to not accept status quo “thoughts and prayers” as the answer to gun violence. They’re fighting for long overdue change. They’re not giving up, and they’re not shutting up. They’re peacefully protesting to make sure that politicians with control realize they’re truly not going away. They’re organized, mobilized, and energized. To watch young people wake up and fight for a better world is a beautiful, motivating thing for all of us. They are tomorrow’s leaders and voters.

A student’s job is to be an active, engaged learner. It’s not a student’s job to understand the psychological dynamics of a troubled peer, or identify the next shooter. It’s not a student’s job to know where to duck and run for cover in every part of their school building. And it’s not a teacher’s job to be the police.

Raising awareness via protest is a good thing. It is not to be admonished by those who have never had to experience the terror of a school shooting, or losing colleagues and children in a blood bath of missed red flags coupled with lax gun laws fueled by an all too powerful gun rights lobby. You scold their actions, yet they’re doing way more than “cutting” class to walk out of school for a day.

Disruption is the point. Disruption for positive change is what makes this blessed country so great. Reform does not come by way of quiet, rule-following resignation. And laws are generally not amended on the weekends.


Bonus: Spotlight Interview




Author: Kimberly Valzania
Image: Twitter/@womensmarch
Editor: Travis May
Copy & Social Editor: Nicole Cameron

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