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Valley schools should permit student walkout

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Valley schools should permit student walkout

Anyone familiar with the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell knows that America is at a tipping point. There is plenty of evidence. A critical mass indeed exists when airlines have discontinued discounting gun enthusiasts, publicly distancing themselves from the NRA; when sporting good stores stop selling automatic rifles; when they raise the age to 21 to buy assault weapons; when First Lady Melania Trump breaks her silence during what appears to be a trying time in her life. The influence cannot be denied.

The “connectors” who succeeded in connecting with us are all bright, articulate high school students traumatized by yet another school shooting.

They assure us that there will #NeverAgain be another such tragedy, and we want to believe them. They have accomplished more in two weeks than adults have in two decades since Columbine. Their leadership should not be underestimated, and regardless of political affiliation, Americans everywhere are impressed by them.

I concur with the first lady that these children should have a voice. They are the ones who grew up familiar with lockdown drills; they saw the carnage firsthand, and they feel the heartache of losing friends whose lives were so full of potential.

It is in this spirit that I am saddened and disappointed in Boardman and Poland school districts for not respecting their request that all schools join them by holding a national walkout day. A supervised event of a mere 17 minutes is no more dangerous than a fire drill.

That argument is coded language for adults who may be attempting to silence students into submission during a youthful call for more sensible gun laws.

I would urge families in these districts who want to respect the wishes of our nation’s newest heroes to call your board members and ask for the superintendents’ reconsideration. Practice democracy! If they do not budge, please encourage your children to do what they feel is the right thing to do.

Suffering the consequences for disobeying authority is part of America’s history. It is civil disobedience. It is exactly what inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to write Letters from a Birmingham Jail. If you do it and are punished, it will be a detention served for the most noble cause in your school’s history. Your community will stand with you. And we will all vote for new board members.

Together. United. Just like we should all be on March 14.

Janet Schueller, Boardman