2018-03-08 / Editorial

Walk-out could be missed opportunity to teach

The Right Side
by Mike Coleman

By now we’ve all heard about “student-led” walk outs planned for March 14 as a call for increased gun control as a response to the horrific event which occurred last month in Parkland, Florida. While we can all appreciate the need for students to feel safe in school more gun control is not the answer. More people are killed every year using fists than rifles and shotguns combined. In a past issue of “The Right Side” I went into detail why gun control is not only not the answer but actually makes us less safe.

Last week I received an email from the principal of Old Orchard Beach High School, John Suttie, who also is superintendent of RSU 23. In the email he said that this is a “grass-roots” and “student-led” effort. Nothing could be further from the truth. Does anyone really believe that students are organically able to organize, communicate and coordinate nationwide walkouts on the same day and at the same time? Among other community organizer groups, the Women’s March is providing professional guidance and management. Rahm’s Rule, named after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel states, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” The Women’s March, along with the Bloomberg anti-gun astroturf organizations Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety are cynically exploiting the tragedy of last month’s shooting to score crass political points to advance their vision of disarming all Americans. Mr. Suttie’s email also stated that the school plans to provide safety and space for our students walking out. He further states, “Students will not be disciplined for peaceful protest as long as it does not disrupt the school environment.” Say what? How can walking out be anything but disruptive to the educational environment of the school? What if a teacher has scheduled a quiz or a test for that day? Aren’t our kids in school to learn and not walk out of class?

This could have been an excellent opportunity to discuss various options to improve school safety and enhance the school environment with the students. Many options are on the table. Our students could be looking at them and learning critical thinking skills as they evaluate all options. They could be learning the role of the Second Amendment along with state constitutional provisions and how they relate to any proposed solutions. Instead they’re likely to be spoon fed just one set of options such as unrealistic gun bans that will do nothing about firearms already privately owned. Regular readers of “The Right Side” know that one logical and realistic move is to repeal the ban on concealed carry permit holders over 21 from carrying in schools including staff who wish to do so.

Schools should be a place where minds are nurtured and challenged. Students should not be programmed and indoctrinated by partisans on either the left or the right. Unfortunately, too many educators believe they should use our schools to teach students what to think rather than how to think. It’s not too late to do something positive and inclusive for March 14. I hope all of our area schools can use this as an opportunity to use a balanced approach rather than an opportunity to further politicize the situation.

Mike Coleman is a former town councilor in Old Orchard Beach and was a member of the Maine Republican State Committee from 2010 through 2017 where he served as budget chairman under three separate state chairmen. He represented Maine at the Republican National Convention as an alternate in 2012. He recently left the Republican Party and became an Independent.

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