2018-03-15 / Letters

Columnist was way off on assessment of walk outs

To the editor:

Mike Coleman, for his column in last week’s Courier, appears to have talked with not a single student engaged in organizing the school walkout planned for March 14 before he categorically and inaccurately dismissed their efforts. Coleman claims that students are incapable of organizing a nation-wide walkout. I sit on the board of trustees at Thornton Academy and am witness to the fact that the planned walkout at TA is very much a studentled effort. Indeed, its primary organizer is a ninth-grader.

Coleman asks a series of rhetorical questions, presumably aimed at making the point that the walkout is nothing but a lost opportunity for learning. Surely, even the most elementary understanding of U.S. history tells us that protest – at work, in our communities, at universities, and yes, in our high schools – has been among the most prominent sources of change in our society. And few but the most hard-hearted would begrudge students devoting 17 minutes of school time to the lives lost in Parkland, Florida.

So to Coleman’s questions: “How can walking out be anything but disruptive to the educational environment?” Answer: When students prepare a protest carefully and work with the administration, a protest can be a valuable part of the educational environment. “What if a teacher has scheduled a quiz or a test for that day?” Answer: All TA students and their parents have been alerted that students are responsible for material covered during the walkout. If a student misses a quiz, they suffer the consequences. “Aren’t our kids in school to learn and not walk out of class?” Answer: See above.

At the end of his column, Coleman gets to what’s really bothering him: the bogus notion that students are “programmed and indoctrinated,” “spoon fed” some anti-gun agenda while they’re at school. He brings no evidence to this charge. There isn’t any.

Coleman’s claims are not only factually inaccurate, but insulting to our students and school leaders. Before he writes again about what’s going on in our local schools, he should do his homework.

Jeanne Hey Saco

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