Teachers unions at the state and national levels are supporting what they say are student-driven protests demanding changes to the Second Amendment since the Parkland, Florida, shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people.
Union officials, however, are advising teachers to be cautious about ensuring their support for the students – from over 2,500 schools that are participating in a “student walkout” Wednesday to promote gun control – is provided as private citizens.
While urging its members to “avoid any suggestion that they are speaking in their official capacity or on behalf of their local school district,” Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), for example, says the National Education Association (NEA) and its state affiliates support this “inspired movement” by students.
“Thoughts and prayers will not prevent the next tragedy,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “People rising up will.”
In the wake of the horrific shooting in Broward County, Florida, a column at NEA Today touted: “There’s a new face on the age-old gun debate: our students, and they won’t be silenced. They are demanding that the adults in power keep them safe and they will not stand by and allow elected officials to fail them any longer.”
“The dominant call for action tied to the national walkout is for stricter gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and expanded background checks for prospective gun-buyers,” writes Denisa R. Superville at Education Week. “Inspired by the activism of a small, but vocal group of student survivors from Stoneman Douglas, students across the U.S. have already staged dozens of walkouts in the weeks since the Feb. 14 mass shooting.”
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten tweeted her praise for union member Katrina Kickbush, who testified at a Senate Democrat hearing that focused on gun violence and strengthening the nation’s gun laws:
WOW! I am so proud of Katrina Kickbush, the @AFTunion member who testified at the @SenateDems hearing “America Speaks Out: Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence” — read her powerful testimony from yesterday: https://t.co/WvOAT40LL0 pic.twitter.com/oeo4ZC1UYO
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) March 9, 2018
The White House proposal to harden schools and to arm teachers is straight out of the NRA playbook. It is antithetical to the needs of children and ignores the purposes of public education.
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) March 13, 2018
At the AFT site called “Share My Lesson,” teachers are encouraged to use a classroom activity to “share students’ solutions to gun violence.” The article on which the lesson plan is based is a PBS opinion piece that promotes gun control and views the NRA as an organization that “has silenced our government.”
Get ready to learn and enjoy learning — the @ShareMyLesson Virtual Conference will begin in just a few hours! Check out the lineup of amazing webinars: https://t.co/FBNqDX2RZk @AFTteach #EduPD #Edchat pic.twitter.com/4o2LdXeiS4
— AFT (@AFTunion) March 13, 2018
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) March 12, 2018
Parents who have been battling against federal intrusion in education say the organized student walkout is part of the progressive agenda.
Ohio parent activist Heidi Huber tells Breitbart News the walkout “has nothing to do with keeping kids safe in school.”
“What better setup for another tragedy, than to announce when there will be hundreds of children – yes, children – allowed by school authorities to leave the safety of their secure classrooms and exit to the unsecured outside campus?” she asks.
“Couple that with the left’s righteous claim of exercising First Amendment rights – wait for it – to protest the existence of Second Amendment rights,” Huber adds. “And while you attempt to square that position, the voice of the ‘reasonable’ continue to proclaim that a 15-17 year-old is mature enough to determine that an 18-21 year-old is not mature enough to own a firearm.”
Huber observes “the weight of the irony is completely lost” as those in charge of schools and the media have lost “the art of critical thinking.”
“Unfortunately, so has a generation of American children,” she says.
Indiana parent activist Heather Crossin tells Breitbart News the student walkouts are an example that the “radical left has stooped to a new low with this latest stunt of using minors to fight their battles.”
“Asking them to disrupt learning time, during the regular school day, to make a political statement is unconscionable,” she adds. “It shows what little regard national organizers actually have for the students whose individual schools they hope to destabilize or for the adults who are charged with running them.”