Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Protest? What about?



When you teach Government, you tell students that they have certain rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution. One of those would be to peaceably assemble to address your grievances to the government. Well, a few of my students took that literally yesterday. Yes, that's a picture of a protest walking through downtown Ukiah, and yes, some of them happen to be my students. What exactly does a Government teacher tell his students when they use the right afforded to them by the Constitution?

Well, first I make sure that they understand what they are protesting about. This protest was less about the recent bill passed by the House of Representatives (HR 4437), and more about the protests in Los Angeles. Apparently, a text message went around the school stating a walk-out was taking place. From there, about 30 students took to the streets, allegedly to support the protesters that were skipping school in Los Angeles. 30 protesters left the school, out of over 500 total Mexican/Hispanic students. Not everyone was ready to walk. And if I had asked the protesters about HR 4437, most would not have a clue what it was actually about.

Second, I make sure that students understand that although protesting is a right, it is not a right that doesn't contain consequences. Students that leave class will receive cuts, because they belong in class. The issue of protesting during school is foolish, and actually leads to less credibility to the actual issue. I told students that the protest should begin right after school and make its way down the main road that leads out of the school. You would get everyone's attention, you would not be breaking the law, and you would have a more positive image in the media.

Finally, I remind students that I have no opinion (except that I think that they should remain in class) and that in the end, they have to deal with their decisions.

Another walk-out, bigger this time, is scheduled for Thursday mid-day. We shall see.

Thanks to the Ukiah Daily Journal for the photo.
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