Hundreds of thousands of students across the nation will be walking out of class on Wednesday, March 14th. Seventeen minutes is all it will take for students to exercise their right to protest and take a political stand.
The group and organizer of the walkout, Women’s March Youth Empower, encourages students throughout the nation to walk out of the classroom at 10 am on Wednesday. Every minute represents one victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida and is meant to be a call for attention on Congress’ inactivity on gun legislation.
Students at a public institution should be mindful that they have limited constitutional rights in comparison to adults; as a result, there are student coordinators for the CHS walkout to help facilitate the process. One of the leaders, Junior Tanner O’Brien, says the walkout’s “purpose is to show the local government that, even though we might not be a voting power per say, we still have opinions and want to have our voices heard.” These student leaders met with CHS Principal Dr. Sejkora, who in turn worked with the other principals and CSD Superintendent Dr. Snell to deal with the logistics and safety of the walk-out. O’Brien says he “feels really strong and that it’s my responsibility to do something in response.” Immediately after the shooting, he went onto social media to figure out a response to the hot issue; his goal this week is “a powerful and respectful” walk out.
Dr. Sejkora says, “Our school cannot support a walkout, we are a bipartisan institution. With that said, we honor students’ right to protest in a respectful manner.” Students who want to walk out and protest respectfully should not fear repercussions from the school; however, they should be wary of academic repercussions if there is an assignment that occurs during this time.
Teachers, on the other hand, have different responsibilities to consider before exercising their right to protest. Mark Gardner, the President of the Camas Education Association, presents these questions to teachers considering walking out:
- Does the employee leave students unsupervised?
- Does the employee leave school property?
- Does the employee actively promote a specific political position or agenda?
When it comes to teachers, these offenses may require disciplinary actions. The last question deals with the possible concern of teachers influencing the students with their personal political agendas. Modeling and teaching civil discourse is not an offense. “It is entirely reasonable for staff to facilitate developmentally-appropriate, productive, open-minded conversations about the topics at hand” wrote Gardner. “Student-driven conversations are allowed to occur as long as the staff “ensure all students have the opportunity to voice their positions, concerns, or ideas.”
Again, the walkout is scheduled to take place at 10 am on Wednesday, March 14th — that is during third period on a regular bell schedule. Students and families are encouraged to click here for more information on the walkout, including the letter CHS students sent to Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and other local leaders.