Increasingly, students across the country are deciding that their immediate participation is required in the hot political issue of the moment. And that participation requires and empowers them to walk out of class, to the nearest march or demonstration, they believe, sometimes with faculty leading the way. Schools seem powerless or afraid to do anything about it. The liability concerns here alone would seem to make this an important issue for school boards to confront in a serious way.
For instance: Johnny walks out of class to march in today’s demonstration. On his way, he is struck by a car. In fact, that particular scenario was precisely in the minds of some school officials in California this week. Legal Clips summmarizes the L.A. Times: “City of Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton notes that about 500 students walked out onto the busy Harbor Freeway as part of the protest. ‘That’s not free speech, that’s insanity,’ says the chief.”
The discussion around these issues too often seems stuck in confusion mode. Or denial mode. Principals and school district leaders often seem paralyzed. What should school policy look like in this area? And who has the courage to enforce it? Students walked out of class in Northern Virginia every day this week objecting to a U.S. House of Representatives bill on immigration reform. More are planned for today. An example of the confusion, from today’s Washington Post here:
“Some Fairfax students said they had heard students with unexcused absences could face suspension or, for organizers, expulsion. Fairfax schools spokesman Paul Regnier said it was too early to know what the punishments would be.”
UPDATE: A student at a demonstration today in Northern Virginia was stabbed, the Washington Post reports.