RALLYING FOR THE INLET
Between 5,000 and 10,000 people joined the largest protests yet against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline construction
As schools around the country brace for student walkouts following the deadly shooting in Parkland, Fla., principals and superintendents are scrambling to perform a delicate balancing act: How to let thousands of students exercise their First Amendment rights while not disrupting school and not pulling administrators into the raging debate over gun control.
Some have taken a hard line, promising to suspend students who walk out, while others are using a softer approach, working with students to set up places on campus where they can remember the victims of the Flor- ida shooting and express their views about school safety and gun control.
Since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, demonstrations have sprung up on school campuses around the country. But the first large-scale, co-ordinated national demonstration is planned for Wednesday when organizers of the Women’s March have called for a 17-minute walkout, one minute for each of the 17 students and staff killed in Florida.
National demonstrations are also planned for March 24, with a march on Washington, D.C.; and on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.
No matter how schools decide to deal with the demonstrations, students have been reassured by Harvard, Yale, MIT, the University of Connecticut, UCLA and dozens of other colleges and universities that their participation won’t affect their chances of getting admitted.
But for middle-school and high-school administrators, figuring out how to allow the demonstrations during school hours has proven challenging. In some cases, it hasn’t gone smoothly.
The superintendents association — which is supporting the April 20 walkout — has drafted a list of suggestions for school administrators, including holding a teach-in or a session on bullying.
“I think we all realize that for folks who are teenagers right now, this could well be a defining moment in their lives. We want to very much encourage and empower student voices. That said, it has to be done in ways that are safe and appropriate,’’ said spokesman Bob Mosier.
Somerville High School junior Megan Barnes marches with others during a student walkout at the school in Somerville, Mass. last month. A large-scale, co-ordinated demonstration is planned for Wednesday to protest gun violence.