The California Department of Education Superintendent Tom Torlakson expressed his support the rights of students planning to be part of walkouts planned for March 14, 2018. These walkouts are planned to show of support for the student victims of mass shootings and to demand protection. “ I applaud these students’ empathy and civic engagement and support the right of all students to exercise their First Amendment rights.
When school shootings occur, killing, injuring, or even just striking fear in children and educators, the country goes into debates about gun rights. Of course, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but as others see it if access to guns was more limited or at least better restricted we may see less of these tragedies. Students have spoken out asking those in our country to leave politics out of the discussion and help them fight to survive. Both Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart were two of the handful of retailers who created stricter policies for firearm and ammunition sales following these pleads for support from students.
Parents were distraught, as they are expected to send their children to school daily to learn. The law requires that children attend school but parents have spoken out about the lack of protective measures provided by the schools, not just for guns but even for excessive bullying. Recently, after the February 18, 2018, shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The 19-year-old student who killed 17 people, was only known to be “different” but never would anyone imagine he would commit such a heinous act.
“School shootings are devastating for victims, survivors, and communities and increase fear for students, parents, and educators throughout the nation,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. Torlakson asked teachers to work with students to help them learn and feel supported expressing their views about the events.
Stressing education, he is asking administrators to set up forums, assemblies, and small group activities targeted to the ages of the students. “Students must, for their own safety, be urged to stay on campus,” stressed Torlakson in a written statement. “I encourage educators to inform students that if they leave campus or class without permission, they may face school discipline. In addition, students should be reminded that acts such as blocking traffic or harming businesses are wrong, will shed a negative light on their cause, and can lead to legal action.”
Torlakson does not believe that the walkout will have any effect on funding due to the funding being lost only when a student misses an entire day. He hopes that the walkout can lead to opportunities for communication which can lead to teacher’s understanding student’s feelings and for students to learn about government and civic participation.
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- Students_stage_walkout_over_nomination_of_Betsy_DeVos (1): By R. Taylor/VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons