Are there really two sides to every story? If you watched the media's coverage of the #Enough Nationwide School Walkout that occurred March 15th, you would have seen the youth of our nation marching in unison to protest gun violence. The power of the event, organized under the hashtag #Enough, was so compelling that senators, mayors, school administrators, teachers, etc. joined in various ways.
Some media coverage said the walkout was a memorial to the 17 lives lost in the Parkland school shooting. Other headlines indicated that it was to push the legislature to act on gun control legislation. The chants and signs from the crowd indicated that in part it was a protest against the NRA's stance on the gun issues, and President Trump not banning assault weapons during his first year in office. It seemed like a mixed bag, but there had to be a group that organized the event right?
It turns out there was a single group that organized the #Enough march, and they were quite clear on exactly what the purpose of the march was. The organization responsible for mobilizing the participants is a non-profit called Woman's March. Their website is very organized and clearly explains their mission, core principles, and their partners and sponsors. I thought I would share the group's mission statement:
The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs and events. Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.
This made me want to learn a little more about this organization that provides ‘intersectional education' through, among other things, events like this walk out. On the page, you can donate to the movement, search for walkouts in your area, RSVP for them and get connected with an adult that will help organize the group. I was beginning to think that this event may not have been the organic, united uprising I saw on television. I wanted to know just exactly why Woman's March organized the event. Luckily the organization clearly stated the purpose of the event:
We are living in an age where young people like us do not feel safe in our schools. This issue is personal for all of us, especially for those of us who are survivors of gun violence. We are walking out for ALL people who have experienced gun violence, including systemic forms of gun violence that disproportionately impact teens in Black and Brown communities. It is important that when we refer to gun violence, we do not overlook the impact of police brutality and militarized policing, or see police in schools as a solution. We also recognize the United States has exported gun violence through imperialist foreign policy to destabilize other nations. We raise our voices for action against all these forms of gun violence.
Huh? Wait a second. This is what school administers were allowing children to go to instead of being in school? This is the cause politicians and teachers are supporting? Maybe the kids didn't know exactly the political agenda the group has in addition to honoring 17 lives lost. But the school administration had to have researched an event that they were allowing kids to go to. After all, they were going to these events during school time, so it would have to be a school approved event, right?
Teachers and administrators sanctioned using tax-funded school time and resources to remove kids from school in support of stopping “…police brutality and militarized policing” and the belief that “…the United States has exported gun violence through imperialist foreign policy to destabilize other nations.” Did the parents and school staff know the real purpose of the event and still believe it a worthy enough cause to have their children rally for?
I don't know, but perhaps in the zeal to intertwine political opinions with the school curriculum, the school administrators overlooked some basic checks and balances. I would imagine if students were taken on a field trip to a museum, students wouldn't end up at the Museum of Holocost Deniers because organizers failed to do research on what the museum was about.
So who dropped the ball across the country in vetting the organization behind the event? Was the ball dropped or has the educational process really become so political as to support an organization that lists one of its partners as the Democratic Socialists of America?
More than half of the supporters of the Women's March organization have a clear, one-sided, political stance and agenda. If this type of organization is allowed to organize an event for which administrators will excuse students to attend, would a group of far right-wing political ideologies be able to do the same? Both are abhorrent and have no place in school.
Parents should be the ones making the decisions about what events their juvenile children attend. For this reason, and a host of others, theatrical, politically driven stunts should never take place in grade schools. School administrators should not facilitate these events. It is not the forum and that is not their role. In the article, Aftershock of the Gun Control School Walkout, I document several stories of kids who were on the ‘wrong side' of the event, and the effect it had on them.
I also document instances where kids were taken out of class to participate in the march, without the parents' consent, even after being told that their child's school would not participate in the event. I caution parents who don't think this is a big deal because this happens to be a cause they can get behind.
I for one will be at my city's next school board meeting, asking if administrators knew about the political agenda of the group organizing the march. And if so, do they agree with the organization's core principles. And finally where they get off circumventing parents rights to choose what types of events grade school students attend.
This march should have been about a desist of the political manipulations, a focus on passing gun laws that protect children, solutions to make schools safer, and holding accountable the FBI and police officers who failed to protect the 17 lives that were recently lost. Does anyone else see that the rally was a political stunt, where kids were manipulated by adults like political props?
No doubt, there are kids who truly think gun control will make them safer and there are kids who disagree with the stance. The commonality between the two groups is that those opinions likely were influenced by what they hear from adults. Because kids are so easily influenced, lessons on monumental and sensitive topics like these should be the parents' jurisdiction, not that of Women's March.