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Children Are Being Used to Call for Gun Control Wednesday: Keep Your Children Home (In Protest) #KeepYourKidHome

School aged children will be walking out of classrooms tomorrow morning all over Minnesota and the nation to “protest” in favor of new gun-control laws.

And when I say children, I mean students in our elementary and middle schools. Presumably,these children are doing so with adult encouragement, either teachers/administers or parents, or both.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 17-minute nation-wide walkout is planned for 10 a.m. Wednesday. March 14. Each minute observed will honor the lives of students murdered by a high school student in Parkland, Florida.

My suggestion if your school is participating? Keep your children home from school. The districts will lose the per diem funding from the state for the whole day. It is the only thing that will get them to sit up and take notice from Minnesotans who do not think this is proper.

Set aside for a moment whether this is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars or school time (it is not). Parents are concerned that this is not a safe or wise practice for young children especially, and that the schools are not properly consulting them as parents.

I received a distressed email from a parent last week. He has a daughter at a middle school in District 196, the 4th largest district in the state with 28,000 students (Rosemount, Apple Valley, Eagan, Burnsville, Coates, Lakeville and Inver Grove Heights, and Empire and Vermillion townships):

I object to the current official guidelines that allow middle school children to leave the building and high schoolers to leave the grounds, come & go as they like, without parental consent or even knowledge. Since the middle school and high school share the building, don’t you think it is unsafe to let people come and go as they please without parental consult or knowledge? Where is the safety for students and accountability to parents?

School District 196 has a lenient, nay overly-indulgent policy for student protests. The consequence of protesting? You get an unexcused absence and must make up missed work. You can even come back to class (causing disruption for your teacher and other students.)

Here is the basic policy (it is copied in full below):

Elementary school students are not allowed to leave school for a protest unless they are signed out by a parent in person. [Ed. Why are parents allowed to disrupt school on school grounds?]

Middle school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but are expected to stay on school grounds unless they are signed out by a parent in person. [Ed. Since when?]

High school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but the school will provide no supervision of high school students who leave school grounds for a protest. [Ed. This is an abdication of trust.]

Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about their family expectations regarding participation in student protests. [Ed. What about the parental expectation that their child will not leave school for any reason without their express prior consent?]

I think it is stunning that a school district has protest guidelines for elementary and middle school-aged children. (We can debate the details on high schools another time). Or that schools would risk robbing young students, who may not know about Parkland, of their innocence, and sense of safety at school.

What is going on in our public schools?

The email sent to me by that concerned father was an exchange with the school—he had not received notice of the planned protests but reported that some parents had. The subject line of his email was: Zero accountability to Parents. District 196 Info on Student Walkouts/Protests.

Here are more excerpts with emphasis from me:

It is distressing to discover that District 196 is every bit as lax on school safety as the massively failed school district leadership in Florida. Just like our high school students, the shooter in Florida was allowed to come and go without any parental knowledge.

In fact, the loss of parental involvement was a major contributor to the shooter’s mental illness issues. The same schools and governments who failed to protect our children, now want to take away our remaining protections, freedoms and parental involvement in the decisions made by our kids and our schools. Nobody should be allowed to come and go from the school or grounds without parental knowledge and consent.

The same schools and governments who failed to protect our children, now want to take away our remaining protections, freedoms and parental involvement in the decisions made by our kids and our schools.

Yes, and they are using our tax dollars and our children to win a political battle over which reasonable people disagree. You can be in favor of gun control but still object to schools getting involved in this way. Can you imagine schools accommodating protests in favor of gun rights? Against abortion? Or in favor of school choice?

The district guidelines naively state,” Teaching and learning will continue for students who remain in class during a student protest.” Right. Ask any teacher how much classroom time is lost tomorrow.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some schools are organizing the protests, others are just accommodating them, while one in Texas will issue a three-day suspension to anyone demonstrating during school hours.  “We are here for an education and not a political protest,” said Superintendent Curtis Rhodes in Needville, Texas.

If your school is participating in this protest, what is the best way to keep your children safe and learning tomorrow? Short of sending them to Needville, Texas? Keep them with you for the day.

Note: On the hunch that teacher union money is behind these protests, I reviewed the National Education Association statements and guidelines to teachers on protesting Parkland; I will write about that next.

 

Email Sent: Friday, March 2, 2018 8:00 AM

Subject: District 196 Info on Student Walkouts/Protests

Message to Dakota Hills and District 196 Families on Student Walkouts and Protests:

The recent tragedy in Florida has renewed conversations about student and school safety. School and district leaders are continually examining school security and practices concerning student safety. Some students and families have expressed an interest in participating in civic activity around these issues, including walkouts during the school day. District 196 respects students’ constitutional right to peaceful assembly and free expression, while also striving to keep the school environment focused on teaching and learning. As you discuss these issues within your family, we want you to know about district guidelines concerning student protest. We will continue to communicate with you about the important issue of school safety and value your partnership in keeping our children safe.

Here is the text/contents of the link above:

While District 196 respects students’ constitutional right to peaceful assembly and free expression, protests are not school-sponsored activities. If students leave school during the day to protest, the district is committed to keeping the school environment focused on teaching and learning. Students who choose to leave class to protest are expected to make up all missed work due to their absence.

Students and their families are advised of the following guidelines concerning student walkouts and protests during the school day:

  • Participation in walkouts and protests is entirely voluntary. No student or adult should coerce, intimidate, degrade or bully an individual who chooses to participate or not participate in a walkout or protest.
  • Elementary school students are not allowed to leave school for a protest unless they are signed out by a parent in person. Middle school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but are expected to stay on school grounds unless they are signed out by a parent in person. High school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but the school will provide no supervision of high school students who leave school grounds for a protest. Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about their family expectations regarding participation in student protests.
  • Students who leave school during the school day to participate in a peaceful protest are marked unexcused for the missed portion of the school day. As with other unexcused absences, students are expected to make up missed work.
  • Students who leave school for part of the day to participate in peaceful protest are permitted to return to school for the remainder of the day.
  • The right of free expression brings with it the responsibility to manage expression in a manner that is not disruptive to school. Students who engage in disruptive behavior at school may be subject to disciplinary consequences consistent with the District 196 discipline policy. School leaders help ensure that students who leave the building for a peaceful protest do so in an orderly way.
  • Teaching and learning will continue for students who remain in class during a student protest.
  • School leaders will communicate with parents and guardians when they become aware of large-scale, planned student protests in order to promote family conversations about the role of protest in society and family expectations concerning participation.

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