Sunday, March 11, 2018

17 Minutes on Wednesday

For the record, I support the walkout. I'm not teaching at ten o'clock and I will join the students at my school. I'll try to help if I can. That said, there's a lot about this walkout that's curious, if not necessarily bad.

First, of course, there's the mayor's open support. You don't always get a mayor coming out and saying he's okay with a mass protest, but there you go. It's a good cause, and I'm glad he supports it. Then you get the convoluted directions from DOE, which is not really good at anything except violating the UFT Contract for no reason. Cooperate with people? That's not what they do.

Last week an administrator told me that Carmen Fariña directed that the seventeen minutes were excused, but anything beyond that would be considered cutting. I can see it now:

How dare you stay out for eighteen minutes, you little hooligan!

On the other hand, if you're gonna stay out for seventeen minutes, you need passing time. At our school, kids get four minutes to go from class to class. I'd argue they need five, but I already argue about enough things, so I won't do that right now. If they need four minutes, then they need to walk out at 9:56 and return at 10:21.

But kids will be kids, and one thing kids do when they're being kids is talk with other kids. So when you have, in my school at least, literally thousands of kids walking, can you expect them to return on time? Will they say, "Oh my gosh, I've gotta get back to Miss Wormwood's class by 10:17 so let me start walking at 10:13 to beat the rush." And if they all say that, won't the rush begin at 10:13? Or will the rush begin at 10:17, thus rendering tens of thousands of city kids to break Carmen's rule? Will that mean it's no longer a beautiful day, even if Macy's is open?

Who's to say?

More importantly, who will be moved by this protest? Clearly not the NRA, which is already trying to block the modest and far from sufficient measures the governor of Florida is taking to reduce gun availability. Did he clear those changes with them before offering them? Did they conspire to put them up only to challenge them in court? You never know, in the good old USA these days.

In our school, I was asked by one-on-one paraprofessionals what they were to do in case of the walkout. It's a pretty fair question. First, if you don't go with the kids to whom you're assigned, are you shirking your duty? And if you do go, and something happens to the kid, are you responsible? It seems like a no-win situation. Last I heard, they were allowed to go or not as their conscience dictates, but to let someone know if they were not planning to go so the kids could be covered.

For teachers it was a little simpler. Teachers would be permitted to go if all their students left. They would also be permitted to stay as conscience dictated.

In our school, the student government seems to have organized the march out onto our athletic field. They're actually making announcements about it. We've got a pretty cooperative student body. I'm impressed. When I was 15, if I walked out there was no way I was gonna return. I have to suppose we'll have 15-year-olds with similar leanings, and it will be a good day for Arby's and the nearby grease truck.

All this is small potatoes, though, compared to what will surely be a national story. Will we bring our useless politicians to the point where they represent We, the People instead of the gun industry? Time will tell, and Wednesday will have to be one in a series of many events to get us the answer we need.
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