In a recent commentary for Breaking Defense, Sean O’Keefe, University Professor in the Maxwell School, noted the opening of President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1981, where the Republican observed that the peaceful and orderly transfer of national authority…
From West Virginia Labor Victory to Upcoming Walkout – We’re At a Critical Moment
On March 14, students plan to participate in a national school walkout to honor the lives of the 17 people killed at Stoneman Douglas High School nearly one month ago, and push lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws. This comes on the heels of the West Virginia teachers’ strike that ended victoriously last week, resulting in a 5 percent pay hike for public school teachers and state employees.
Two Syracuse University professors in the School of Education talk about the ways the action by students and educators fit into a larger political and social justice movement moment.
Mara Sapon-Shevin, Professor of Inclusive Education at Syracuse University’s School of Education, says:
“I strongly support the activism of the students and the teachers in their powerful stand against gun violence in schools.
“Children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. More guns in school are not a solution; to we need to challenge the culture of violence that is pervasive in our society.
“The best antidote to hopelessness is activism, and seeing people — especially young people — voice the courage of their convictions fills me with pride and a sense of hope.”
Beth Ferri, Professor of Inclusive Education and Disability Studies at Syracuse University’s School of Education, says:
“The students from Stoneman Douglas High School and the upcoming March on Washington have galvanized a generation of young student activists calling for sensible gun legislation once and for all so that we will ‘never again’ experience such a large-scale massacre in this country. Similar calls for gun control have followed every high-profile shooting, but this time it felt different—I think because this time it was different. In a moment of grief and clarity, sparked by a student leader and activist, Emma González, the conversation quickly coalesced around specific gun control demands—and this time, the students had no intention of backing down or fading from public consciousness. The students directed their aim at the NRA and demanded action from lawmakers, the President, and from the country.
“Like student-activists before them, from the Little Rock Nine to college student-activists at Kent State, somehow seeing children and youth showing the kind of courage, leadership, and moral clarity so often lacking by politicians made the typical response of ‘thoughts and prayers’ seem particularly hollow, insensitive and insincere.
“And, despite the typical ‘hand-wringing’ about today’s youth, there were students demanding the future they deserve—not passively waiting to inherit it, but claiming it—demanding it. Deftly using the tools at their disposal—from social media to academic debate skills, to political engagement and activism—here was the voice of a new generation of leaders emerging from this horrific event.
“As a former teacher and current college professor, I couldn’t be prouder or more encouraged by a group of students. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish as they move into university and beyond. I can only see this as helping to show other youth the importance of political engagement and activism and the dangers of political disengagement or apathy.”
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