High school students have courageously led a national conversation about ending gun violence after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and have prompted the planning of school actions across the country, such as the March 14 classroom walkout, the March 24 March for our Lives rally in Washington, DC, and the April 20 Day of Action. This has been an urgent reminder that one of the primary purposes of public education is to prepare students to be engaged citizens. It's pretty clear the Parkland students are more than prepared.
But if students in the second largest school district in the country have any intention of joining the #NeverAgain movement, they're going to have to do it off campus.
As the largest school district in California, LAUSD should be taking the lead in supporting school communities' participation in this urgent teaching moment.
But LAUSD’s only words on the matter have amounted to “Don’t."
In its directive emailed to school staff on February 23, LAUSD said, “District employees shall not promote, endorse, or participate in any student demonstration, distribution of materials, assembly, sit-in, or walkout during work hours or while serving as an agent or representative of LAUSD."
If LA students take it upon themselves, as students across the country have, LAUSD's order will put teachers, principals and staff in a terrible dilemma of supervising their students or leaving them on their own.
The Los Angeles Times is among thousands of news media outlets that have championed the activism of the Parkland students. California's elected representatives have celebrated their actions.
Yet, LAUSD students are to sit out this historic lesson? This is wrong.
College Admissions Officers have urged schools not to suspend students who participate in these actions and the Network for Public Education has created a toolkit for school communities to participate in a National Day of Action to Prevent Gun Violence in Schools.
The public education leaders of LAUSD should proactively support this urgent teaching moment, and provide academic, social-emotional, and security resources to our school communities.
Take it from the students:
"This is not just Parkland anymore; this is America. This is every student in every city, everywhere. It’s everybody.” - Ariana Klein, Stoneman Douglas HS student
“We want April 20 to be a day of solidarity for the lives lost. It’s about paying our respects. But we also want it to be a day of discourse.” - Lane Murdock, 15 year old Connecticut student who helped organize the April 20 events
Please tell LAUSD's Superintendent not to punish students and teachers for participating in these historic actions to prevent gun violence in schools.