We received an update this afternoon on how our schools were planning on handling students who want to join the planned protest on Wednesday in support of the victims of the recent Parkland tragedy. It sparked a lot of discussion and as expected a broad range of opinions. In summary it seems like most of the discussion was primarily in two specific areas……
Should (and if so how can) schools best support students who wish to participate in the 17 Minutes of Silence Protest on Wednesday? As expected there were strong opinions on both sides.
On one hand, there were individuals who took the position that there should be no debate about allowing students to walk out of class and participate with no fear of reprisal – it just “common sense” that we should support it. “After all”, they stated “How can we stop them anyway and who wants to hear in the press about our school refusing to support such a tragedy.” A bad reasoning statement from one individual for sure, but I could be convinced that out district should allow it if students were truly doing it to be supportive and not just joining the “bandwagon” or wanting a break from class. Although I struggle a bit with exactly who and how that determination would be made……
Folks with a differing point of view wondered aloud whether schools would be as supportive for other causes that were important to students. The thinking that was articulated was that unless the school was prepared to be supportive of all causes, this one cause should not receive any preferential treatment, no matter how horrific the circumstances. The sentiment seemed to be that the focus should be on maintaining a normal day of operation and that regular consequences outlined in school policies should remain in place for anyone who chooses to leave class. I can also see some validity in this argument as well, although I don’t at the high school how it could really be stopped….
In both scenarios, one matter of great concern remains student safety (and cynically for some who is liable if something were to happen during the walk out if the school supported it).
Is it easier to maintain student safety, the routine of the rest of the day and the relationships between student and staff if the school is supportive and helps to facilitate a process for those interested in participating? or ….. Is it better for the school to remain neutral and maintain a normal operating day with enforcement of all rules and guidelines?
No easy answers but interested to see what the final solution looks like. It was very interesting to participate in the discussion and I am sure there is more to come….