rise of the #NeverAgain
movement — hatched from the grief and anger of the survivors of
the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland,
Florida — has placed the issue of students and their needs on
the front burner like never before. Although the young people are
rallying around gun control and demanding an end to violence in their
schools, the larger issue is that America has the wrong priorities in
some politicians and the NRA call for arming teachers, the reality is
students do not need more firepower, police or metal detectors.
Rather, they need highly paid teachers, academic programs that build
citizens and critical thinkers, strong extracurricular programs in
music, art, sports, debating and other activities, not preparation to
become inmates and armed camp detainees.
in a few weeks the millennial-led movement has spurred student
walkouts and protests across the country and today’s
March for Our Lives
in Washington, D.C., and forced the passage of a gun law, however
NRA laboratory of Florida.
President Donald Trump and other water carriers for the gun lobby
have promoted the concept of teachers carrying firearms purportedly
as a means of stopping school shooters, but effectively as a method
of selling more weapons and moving the subject away from prevention,
gun regulations, and the needs of schools.
González, one of the Parkland survivors, called the arming of
teachers “stupid” on “60
noting the financial and practical limitations of the idea and its
of all, Douglas ran out of paper for, like, two weeks in the school
year, and now all of a sudden they have $400 million to pay for
teachers to get trained to arm themselves?” she said. “Really?
you’re a teacher, and you have a gun, do you keep it in a
lockbox or do you carry it on your person?” González
continued. “If the teacher dies and a student who’s a
good student is able to get the gun, are they now held responsible to
shoot the student who’s come into the door? I’m not happy
militarization of public schools and penalization of education
arrived quite some time ago in
black, Latino, and poor communities,
where mass shootings never have occurred, yet students are subjected
to metal detectors and pat-downs, zero-tolerance policies, and
on-campus police arrests. When society retrofits its schools with the
look and feel of correctional institutions, it sends a message that
our children are prison ready, and this is the future we have carved
out for them.
the students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas are effective and
articulate speakers and leaders in the making, thanks to a
and a commitment to teaching civic education
that many schools lack. This, as the country witnesses
cuts to music, arts,
programs that build better human beings. Under the stumbling
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos,
the Trump administration is hollowing out public education with deep cuts
and a privatization
to “advance God’s kingdom”
in the name of “school choice.”
challenges facing teachers and students is evident in states such as
where teacher pay ranks
among the 50 states. Teachers waged a strike for higher salaries, and
for their students to make sure they did not go hungry, in a state
one in four children lives in poverty.
Inspired by the West Virginia strike, teachers in other states are
following suit and reinvigorating the labor rights movement.
students are protesting — for their very lives and policies
that are responsive to their lives. Young people always have been
instrumental in social change, such as the civil rights and antiwar
movements. Fifty years ago this month,
Mexican-American high school students
— facing racially discriminatory policies that discouraged them
from higher learning — waged the East Los Angeles Walkouts.
Chicano students who walked out of class made a number of
demands to the board of education,
sought the revision of textbooks, bilingual education and ethnic
studies, Latino teachers and administrators, smaller classes, and
better facilities. The walkout brought attention to the
and politically empowered kids to fight against substandard
education, express their sense of pride, and control their own
destiny in the process.
half a century to a new generation, when young people have once again
taken matters into their own hands because they cannot wait for the
grown folks to do the right thing. The adults have failed the
children, after demonstrating that they have the will to provide
police officers and soldiers with all the firepower and equipment
they need — and
much of what
they don’t need
— and teachers with the weapons they don’t want, but lack
the resolve to give children the tools they need to thrive.
This commentary was originally published by WHYY.org