Home > Uncategorized > Instead of Walking Out for 17 Minutes on March 14, Use That Time to Write Letters to Legislators

Instead of Walking Out for 17 Minutes on March 14, Use That Time to Write Letters to Legislators

March 3, 2018

Alicia Freese’s Seven Days article I read thanks to a friend’s Facebook link described a memo written to schools by Vermont’s Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe, that discouraged students in Vermont from walking out of school for 17 minutes on March 14 as part of a national action. The article included a link to the entire memo, a paragraph of which was flagged:

The secretary urged administrators to find another way for students to express themselves, such as holding a school-wide assembly. “I encourage you to work with your students and support civil and peaceful opportunities for student expression and student voice, while holding all members of your community to your codes of behavior,” she wrote.

Here’s my suggestion to administrators in Vermont (and NH) for March 14: have students spend 17 minutes composing letters and/or emails to their local delegates expressing their own beliefs about the legislation under consideration. In that way, the students would begin to gain an understanding for how they can influence the thinking of their elected officials. As for the elected officials, I would encourage legislators and school board members to visit as many schools as possible to talk with students about their positions on the bills under consideration and/or steps they intend to take locally to ensure that students are safe and cared for.

These horrific killings are a teachable moment about how democracy is working, and I would encourage that we see this as an opportunity to engage students (AND their parents) with their elected state representatives and elected local school board members on the issue of gun violence. In this way, it’s possible that every one will be pay attention to the elections at all levels of government in November and everyone will see how democracy works.

Looking ahead, it is noteworthy that the April 20 student walkouts are currently contingent on the adoption of meaningful gun legislation. In VT legislature has several bills under consideration that may preclude the need for a walk out in April. New Hampshire, though, is another story. Students, parents, and teachers may have to settle for incremental change, and even that may elude the legislature this time around.

%d bloggers like this: