Students in the Chattanooga area and around the country eke out a protest that follows rules; they obtain permission and meet expectations of bureaucrats.
By David / 92.7 NoogaRadio
In the events controlled by quiet expectations of their betters, students complain about school massacres, demand gun control from Congress and lament the spiritual darkness that leads young men to slaughter massed and innocents in gun-free zones.
At Red Bank High School, students by the hundred stood around a pole at which clanked a cable holding aloft the federal flag. They prayed about the hopelessness in the hearts of young men who slaughter fellow students, as it is alleged that Nikolas Cruz did in a Parkland, Fla., high school.
In Dalton high school, principal Steve Bartoo bans protest. “It’s important that you have a voice and be able to seek it,” he says. “But it’s also equally important that you do it in a way that is safe, that doesn’t cause confrontation, is done in a respectful way. And so, that’s why we’re not going to be participating in some sort of a walkout.”
Mr. Bartoo shuts down the school’s wi-fi system to prevent student coordination, but as many as 70 take part in a demonstration outdoors. Two students tell a reporter that they feel intimidated by rumors of what Mr. Bartoo told teachers regarding walkouts. In an address he says walking out of classrooms “is not a good idea” and that the school wants to keep students “safe” during a hugging event honoring victims of what he repeatedly calls the “Parkland situation.”
“I appreciate your doing what we are asking you to do today,” he says at the end of a three-minute intercom talk.
Threat of administrative whip
Support for stifling students’ protest is widespread. “We need to teach our children responsibility,” says Jeff Holcomb, party of the Republican party in Catoosa County. “When you have to be at school, you need to be at school. And when you want to protest, do it at recess.”
In Whitfield County, also in Georgia, a school boss forbids student protest — under threat of a writeup. Organizing students had plan a 17-minute walkout, but Dr. Judy Gilreath refuses permission.
Dr. Gilreath says students “do have rights under the First Amendment to our constitution to express their views, but they do not have the right to express those views whenever and however they wish, and they have no right to walk out of class during the school day without consequences,” one news report notes.
“If students do choose to walk out of class they will get an unexcused absence from class. Gilreath also says if students want to have peaceful protests, they can be held outside of the school day.”
Students insist they don’t want to live in fear. Their signs say, “Fear is NOT my favorite subject,” “No fear in our schools,” “We walk because you won’t let us talk!” and “Do something, don’t just tweet.”
Individuality and the external world are in many ways suppressed in public school. It would seem that pressure — even anger — might build up in the artificial world of public school. But a senior at Tyner Academy, ballplayer Ke’un Webb, says the protest acts like a relief valve. “Students don’t really get to speak out a lot, and when we do, it doesn’t always feel like what we say matters, so it helps us have a voice.”
Around the country, school officials rechanneled anger over dangers to themselves in exposed factory schools into forums and events in auditoriums. The story of the protests is as much about the extraordinary violence and existential virility of armed gunmen filled with cold indifference to suffering as it is the neutered and passive groupings of students — many of them grown men and women still subject to schoolmasters — who beg permission to protest, get permits for their own weak impulses to overturn their imprisonment.
Even in statements by officials supportive of the impulse to protest, there are statements such as these by Cleveland, Tenn., school superintendent Dr. Russell Dyer. “[I]t is important to know that disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations is not acceptable and will be handled compassionately, but firmly, in accordance with our board policy and internal procedures. This assembly is expected to last 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims in the recent Florida school shooting. No one from outside the school community will be allowed to come on campus to join in this assembly.”
How about a little disorderly conduct, anyone?
Sources: Tyler Jett, “At Dalton High School, principal mutes protest by students,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, March 15, 2018
“Local students join nationwide walkouts Wednesday,” Newschannel9.com, March 14, 2018
Stephanie Santostasi, “Heritage High School students participate in national school walkout,” Newschannel9.com, March 14, 2018