Our View: This walkout is far from over
March 16, 2018
The student walkout against gun violence that spilled across school campuses Wednesday didn't end when the kids returned to their classrooms, cracked open a book and began the next class.
This walkout — a burgeoning nationwide movement to pressure state and federal lawmakers into enacting new gun laws and improve school safety — has the potential to grow and evolve.
Nevada County students joined in the nationwide protests, tailoring their walkout or walk up as they saw fit.
Over 100 Nevada Union High School students participated Wednesday during a passing period. About 100 students at Bear River High School also held a 17-minute walkout. Staff and students of Grass Valley Charter School marched together to deliver letters to the town's mayor. Forty Yuba River Charter School seventh- and eighth-graders spoke at City Hall. Almost 100 students and two teachers from Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning held an informative session during lunch.
The actions of these students, regardless of your own political persuasion, should be commended. This is what we want — an educated, participatory electorate that is engaged in local and national discourse.
Plenty of these kids can't even vote yet. That doesn't matter. In two to three years the high school students will be of voting age, with more political activism under their belts than most of us could boast at 18.
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The right to peaceably assemble and petition the government isn't restricted to those 18 years and over. Students don't lose their rights at the school gate, but neither do they get a free pass for cutting class.
The Nevada Union students received a tardy slip because the protest extended into class time. Sure, it's a slap on the wrist, but it's the same slap they would have gotten if they'd been tardy for any reason.
There was no lessened or heightened punishment because of the protest, which is the right move on the part of the school.
Acts followed by consequences, even if they're tardy slips, are sorely needed. They force forethought on the part of the student, and help shape their actions. Questioning the value of participating in a walkout soon turns into debating the usefulness of a local tax measure or justifying why one political candidate is superior to another.
Ultimately, action and consequence take second fiddle to the reason these kids are protesting — to stop gun violence and make schools safer.
You might not agree with their beliefs or their methods. Maybe you think some of the kids across the country are pawns of liberals and Democrats, who are using children to further their political ends.
It's possible some of them are. But here's a problem their opponents face: the intended result is the same.
We don't know the motivation behind every school walkout that happened this week. We do know what our local students said and what school staff witnessed — that a majority of these kids, without any prompting, organized a protest and implemented it because of their own sincerely held beliefs.
These kids have had not only a national issue thrust upon them, they've had the fear of death consuming their daily thoughts. They've watched as state and federal leaders do nothing, expressing "thoughts and prayers" and little else as one school shooting follows another.
And another. And another.
They're scared, they're tired and they're speaking out until change occurs.
Those who discard these kids as pawns in a larger game are making a grave mistake. These school-aged activists are a few short years not only from voting for elected leaders, but running for office themselves.
Get your sneakers ready. This walk is far from over.
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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