I am an educator who was proud to have served for decades as both a teacher and an administrator in the Cobb County School District. I served your mission, your board of education, and multiple CCSD school communities with loyalty, dedication to educational excellence, and the hard work those duties require. I was proud to work among the finest and most professional public school educators in our country whose sole goal was the unfettered empowerment of all children.
Until today, I have never spoken out, privately or publicly, against any policy or position of the Cobb County School District. Why? Because I believed in them. I believed they were solely focused on what was best for the students. But, that changes now with this issue!
Today, when I glanced at CNN and saw that Cobb County School District chose to adopt a policy to punish students who seek to have a constructive voice for improving gun safety laws by participating in a peaceful, organized, national school walkout. I was incredulous! I was also deeply disappointed.
I know there was considerable internal discussion as to the course of action the school district should take in this matter. I believe you made the wrong decision. You had an astonishing gift handed to you that you chose to toss on the rubbish heap of expedience and perhaps also political motivations. You walked away from a critical, empowering, teachable moment that clearly demonstrates to children that their voices matter, that they can peacefully participate in constructive activities to change the nation and the world for the better.
Instead, you chose a petty and ineffective course of action: to threaten children who seek to have a constructive voice in protest of a deadly American norm that directly impacts their day-to-day educational lives. According to CNN, you threatened them with Saturday School or suspension for up to 5 days if they participated in the walkout?! Shame on you!
You should be ashamed of your choice. Regardless of any political stance, your duty is to empower students, to give them a voice, to teach them that their voices in the political discourse of this country matter.
As you well know, they, and the educators that serve them, are the potential targets of gun violence every single day they come to school. For you to threaten them with punishment for standing up for their own day-to-day safety in school, and then to say you will not allow their peaceful protest “for safety reasons,” is appalling to me, an educator who cares deeply about public education and our children.
You failed to take the high road. You failed in your educational duty. You failed to do the difficult work required of leaders. You failed to empower students. You failed your very heritage of educational excellence!
Grade on this, the project of a lifetime: F-
The best educators allow their students the opportunity to self-correct and learn from their mistakes. So, in that spirit: How do you plan to learn from this failure of the community you serve? How are you going to make this right?