On March 14, students across the country are planning a walkout from their high schools in memory of the seventeen students killed in Florida in February.
This idea is dumb and dangerous. It is when students are pouring out of the building, say as at dismissal time, that we are at our most vulnerable. (Nicholas Cruz opened fire when students emerged from classes after he pulled an alarm.) No one is blocking the doors. Security guards and administrators are in the parking lots. Something that administrators and police have overlooked can easily be exploited. The opportunity to inflict a lot of harm is tremendous.
Unfortunately, for the next couple weeks, instead of supervising a learning environment, school officials will be planning for this walk-out. They can’t say it’s not happening to thousands of high school students. They don’t have a choice. The entire student body cannot be suspended. Yet it is hard to impose order on a social protest because, by definition, social protests are chaotic and disorderly. Schools will just have to be as prepared as possible, but stopping an incident often hinges on luck. The potential for a crisis is huge.
On March 14, I am going to lock my door and stay in my room. Our union has advised us that walking out can be regarded as a form of protest or strike for which we can either be disciplined or terminated.
All the trouble is going to be outside anyway. Very few adults will be supervising thousands of kids.
The walkout is a distraction from the school day. Some kids probably do want to commemorate those who lost their lives in Florida. Most just want to get out of school. By letting kids walk out, we are empowering those not ready to handle power. Encouraging this walkout is madness.
The walkout also publicly denies the school its authority. When students are already having a protest on March 24, the March 14 walkout becomes hard to justify. It becomes an issue of power and challenging those who would deny students power. A walkout is, by definition, a provocation. Students will be saying a great deal indeed when they get up and walk out. This walkout will only make matters worse for schools and the discipline problems that they face on a daily basis.
If parents want to make a political point about guns, then they should come to the school and stand with their child for seventeen minutes. If they really wanted to make an impact, they would ask their child to do seventeen nice things that day. They would ask their child to say hello to seventeen classmates that they did not know. Standing outside for seventeen minutes just puts on a show.
Otherwise, parents might want to consider protesting the protest and keeping their kids safe at home. Call the school administrator to voice your concerns.
Or better yet, tell your child, “You’re a kid.”