The Chicago Republican Party is filing a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools, accusing them of indoctrinating area students by helping them organize Wednesday’s gun control walkouts across the district.
In a statement to the press, GOP Chairman Chris Cleveland said it was one thing for students to participate in the walkouts on their own but quite another for school administrators to actively help and encourage them to do so.
“It’s appalling that 10 to 14-year-old kids would be coerced, by their teachers, to participate in a political demonstration,” said Cleveland. “A 10-year-old kid isn’t going to have an informed opinion on these political matters, and shouldn’t be expected to have the fortitude to hold a different opinion from everyone else in his or her classroom. This is political indoctrination, pure and simple.”
He said there was reason to believe that Chicago school violated the law when dispersing materials that helped students organize the protest.
“It’s a violation of CPS policy, of state law, and of the First Amendment for a government-run school to organize a political demonstration and pressure students to participate in it,” he said.
In their press release, the Republicans cited an email sent to parents from Lincoln Elementary School, demonstrating that the principal went well beyond simply “allowing” students to participate in the protests.
“On Wednesday, March 14 our walkout demonstration will be for grades 5-8 students and teachers,” the principal wrote. “Every K-8 teacher and staff member is welcome to participate, of course, if they are free at this time.”
While the email says the school is taking no official stance on the protest or the subject of gun control, the mere fact that they are turning this protest into an official school activity with dismissal bell changes, parental invitations, and office recommendations makes this a school-led protest – NOT an example of student activism. And even though the principal assures parents that no one will be compelled to join the protest, the tacit pressure is undeniably there. What, you’re going to be the only kid who stays in class? Of course not.
We don’t doubt for a minute that you could find replications of this all around the country, which shows you just how meaningless this demonstration actually was. Think back to your high school days (or, in this case, your kindergarten days?). If everyone’s leaving class for 17 minutes, you’re going as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re protesting gun violence or the flavors of ice cream in the cafeteria, a happening is a happening.
Which, fine. But that doesn’t mean schools have to stamp it with their approval and it sure as hell doesn’t mean the adults actually have to take these protests seriously.
Even if the media does.