Are Teachers Walking Out? Parkland Educators Couldn't Join Their Students, So They Did This Instead
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students aren't the only ones from the Parkland, Florida, high school taking a stand against gun violence — Stoneman Douglas teachers joined Friday's National School Walkout, too. Since teachers can't typically walk out of their own classrooms, they protested outside the school before the first bell rang. The staff wore orange, the official color of National Gun Violence Awareness Day that will take place in June, and held signs that read "arm me with school funding" and "end school violence."
Students across the nation plan to walk out of class on Friday to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting that killed 12 students and one teacher. Since 17 people were killed in a Valentine's Day shooting at Stoneman Douglas, survivors have propelled a national conversation surrounding gun control. They're advocating for a national ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as universal background checks.
Phrases that have become the student survivors' rallying cries — "never again" and "enough is enough" — were chanted by their teachers Friday morning, CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports. The teacher demonstration was a clear sign that the student gun control activists have support from the adults who witnessed the same tragedy on Feb. 14.
Friday's National School Walkout was organized by high school students to bring attention to the fact that kids across the country don't feel safe at school. Teachers face the same threat of gun violence as their students, though.
Three of the 17 people killed in the Stoneman Douglas shooting were school staff members. Scott Beigel, a geography teacher killed in the mass shooting, had even talked to his fiancée about what to say if he died in a school shooting. Beigel's fiancée, Gwen Gossler, told The New York Post after his death that he jokingly told her: "Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth — tell them what a jerk I am, don’t talk about the hero stuff."
The fact that Beigel and his fiancée felt the need to have a conversation about what to do if he were killed in a school shooting signals that many teachers are just as concerned about the prevalence of school shootings as their students.
When President Trump and GOP politicians in Florida claimed arming teachers would make schools safer, Parkland school district staffers came out in opposition to a local measure aimed at giving teachers weapons. Florida lawmakers approved a plan to put $67 million toward training teachers to carry guns in the weeks following the Stoneman Douglas mass shooting, but the southern Florida school district doesn't want any part of it.
"I have not met one teacher or one student who is in favor of arming teachers in Broward County," board member Laurie Levinson told CBS Miami earlier this month.
Though mass shootings like the one in Parkland tend to grab the nation's attention, guns go off in American schools all the time. In fact, in the first three months of 2018, there were 17 school shootings in which at least one person was shot.
Lane Murdock, the teenager who founded the National School Walkout, wrote in a Bustle op-ed that it's time to demand change:
Now, we're building a national movement to harness the raw energy of a generation. The National School Walkout is the first step of a forward-looking mobilization that has a strategy and a plan for action. We aren't going away. This epidemic must end. We will not stay quiet until our demands are met.
As evidenced by their Friday demonstration, Stoneman Douglas teachers agree that it's time to put an end to gun violence.