By Kathleen Bartzen Culver & Erica Salkin
School administrators across the country have a choice to make this week. Judging from pre-emptive censorship efforts in two districts, some of them are going to get it wrong.
To mark the one-month anniversary of the Feb. 14 deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., students nationwide plan to walk out of school for 17 minutes to demand their state and local representatives address gun violence. Students, who are among the organizers of the ENOUGH National School Walkout on March 14 and a separate day-long National School Walkout on April 20, are using social media to rally classmates. In a statement posted to Instagram and Facebook, student organizers—who hail from more than a dozen states—call their joint efforts “part of an escalating force in a longer fight.”
Yet, in at least two school districts, administrators are seeking to silence student voices with threats of discipline. In a now-deleted public Facebook post, Superintendent Curtis Rhodes of the Needville Independent School District, near Houston, warned against student participation in any type of protest during school hours. He threatened a three-day suspension for any participating student because, he wrote in the post, students “are here for an education and not a political protest…”
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