LS parents voicing their disappointment at the school's approach to the student walk out
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Dear Dr. Kossack,
We are writing to convey our disappointment regarding the letter about the student walk out on March 14th. Many of the students at Markham, particularly the 8th graders, are old enough to have an opinion and take a stand in not only the fight for gun reform, but in paying their respects to the 17 victims of the senseless tragedy in Parkland, Florida.
As an educator, I hope you would agree that the right to free speech, and the right to stand up for your beliefs, is what moves a society. The right to vote for women started with a simple protest by Susan B Anthony, which then rippled into a National cause. The right for equality and civil rights began with Martin Luther King, Jr and the Great March on Washington, with Rosa Parks not giving up her seat on the bus, and Ruby Bridges entering a white elementary school. Protesting and speaking out is the catalyst for change, and using the word “counterproductive” to describe fighting for rights, for speaking out for what you believe in, is what could be considered counterproductive.
We, as a community, should be working to raise our children to stand up and speak out when things are not right. We shouldn’t encourage them to sit back and let things happen to them, but rather to fight for what they believe in. That’s how change happens. In this time especially, our children have a chance to make a difference. Discouraging and stifling their voice is a disservice to them, to us as their parents, to our community, and to all of our futures.
We understand that children protesting in school is very complicated, and there are many security issues that would need to be addressed. Perhaps rather than discouraging protest and the right to speak out, students who were interested in voicing their opinions could have been asked to sign up in advance. There could have been a plan in place for when and where to go to voice their dissent, in a safe way: maybe congregating in the gym where a moment of silence could be observed or a discussion on ideas on making change. Perhaps the students could have written letters to the students and their families in Parkland wishing them well. Or perhaps this could have been an opportunity to discuss protesting in general and what it means to stand up and have your voice heard in a peaceful and meaningful manner. There are countless ways the students could participate in this process in their own, age appropriate, way.
Discouraging our children from using their voices, and calling that right to take a stand counterproductive, is NOT what is best for our children. As Little Silver parents, we are extremely disappointed that is the road that was chosen.
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