There's no word from the Broward County school district as to when classes will resume at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But if that happens before gun control legislation has passed, a group of Florida shooting survivors won't be going back to school.
Alex Wind, 17, told The Washington Post that he and other leaders of the Never Again MSD group will not return to school until "changes have been made." Wind, along with his friends Cameron Kasky and Sofie Whitney, started the group and have begun campaign online with the hashtag #neveragain. Their goal is to make sure that the Parkland shooting is the last school shooting in the country. In addition to speaking at rallies, the group has organized the "March for Our Lives" both in Washington, D.C., and in cities across the country for March 24.
They've also involved other leading voices from their high school like Emma Gonzalez, who fired up a Fort Lauderdale gun control rally over the weekend with a powerful speech. Their message is consistent: not one more shooting because politicians fail to take action.
Wind told The Post that the work they're doing has been a part of the grief process. "Now we’re grieving and we’re coping, but we’re doing it with our voices," Wind told the paper. "This isn’t about politicians; this is about victims." Then he laid out the promise about not returning:
We will not let those 17 people die in vain because, if nothing gets done, I am not going back to school, David Hogg will not be going back to school, Cameron Kasky will not be coming back to school, Emma Gonzalez will not be going back to school. None of us from the Never Again movement will be going back to school until legislation has been passed, and until changes have been made.
According to The Post, the Never Again leadership now includes some 20 students. They, according to Wind, will not be returning to school. "How are we supposed to feel safe again?" Wind asked The Post.
What if this happens again? What if this happens in any other school? How are we supposed to know and feel safe in those exact hallways where the shooting happened if nothing changes? If these laws caused the shooting in the first place, what’s going to stop (another shooting) if the laws don’t change?
The idea of a mass student protest on a scale not seen since the Civil Rights Movement has been proposed as a way to exert pressure, and certain education leaders have said they would support it.
The Associated Press reported that the Network for Public Education was working with teachers and students to organize "sit-ins, walkouts, marches and any other events to protest gun violence in schools" on April 20, the anniversary of the shooting at Columbine. Even Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, was in on the initial discussions.
Organizers from the Women’s March have also called for a 17-minute walkout on March 14 to protest Congress's inaction on gun control. "Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school," the Women's March statement reads. "Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day."
Just how many students will ultimately join the organizers of Never Again is up in the air. But their message is crystal clear. "Too many politicians are taking money from the NRA," Wind told The Post. "It’s not a political issue; it’s an issue of action. It’s not specifically about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about sending a message that if you receive money from the NRA, you will not be receiving a single vote from Parkland, Florida."
Organizing this kind of mass protest will be an entirely different kind of education.