The Student Activists Of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High: They Were Trained For This Critical National Moment

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High activist Emma González. (Portrait by Seth L. Taylor, 2018)

They embody the power of a comprehensive education.

By Dahlia Lithwick
Slate (2/28/18)

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to class Wednesday morning two weeks and moral centuries after a tragic mass shooting ended the lives of 17 classmates and teachers. Sen. Marco Rubio marked their return by scolding them for being “infected” with “arrogance” and “boasting.” The Florida legislature marked their return by enacting a $67 million program to arm school staff, including teachers, over the objections of students and parents. Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill opted to welcome them back by ignoring their wishes on gun control, which might lead a cynic to believe that nothing has changed in America after yet another horrifying cycle of child murder and legislative apathy.

But that is incorrect. Consumers and businesses are stepping in where the government has cowered. Boycotts may not influence lawmakers, but they certainly seem to be changing the game in the business world. And the students of Parkland, Florida, unbothered by the games played by legislators and lobbyists, are still planning a massive march on Washington. These teens have—by most objective measures—used social media to change the conversation around guns and gun control in America.

Extracurricular education—one that focuses on skills beyond standardized testing and rankings—creates passionate citizens who are spring-loaded for citizenship.

Now it’s time for them to change the conversation around education in America, and not just as it relates to guns in the classroom. The effectiveness of these poised, articulate, well-informed, and seemingly preternaturally mature student leaders of Stoneman Douglas has been vaguely attributed to very specific personalities and talents. Indeed, their words and actions have been so staggeringly powerful, they ended up fueling laughable claims about crisis actors, coaching, and fat checks from George Soros. But there is a more fundamental lesson to be learned in the events of this tragedy: These kids aren’t freaks of nature. Their eloquence and poise also represent the absolute vindication of the extracurricular education they receive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

An education that has all but disappeared from America

Despite the gradual erosion of the arts and physical education in America’s public schools, the students of Stoneman Douglas have been the beneficiaries of the kind of 1950s-style public education that has all but vanished in America and that is being dismantled with great deliberation as funding for things like the arts, civics, and enrichment are zeroed out. In no small part because the school is more affluent than its counterparts across the country (fewer than 23 percent of its students received free or reduced-price lunches in 2015–16, compared to about 64 percent across Broward County Public Schools) these kids have managed to score the kind of extracurricular education we’ve been eviscerating for decades in the United States. These kids aren’t prodigiously gifted. They’ve just had the gift of the kind of education we no longer value.

Part of the reason the Stoneman Douglas students have become stars in recent weeks is in no small part due to the fact that they are in a school system that boasts, for example, of a “system-wide debate program that teaches extemporaneous speaking from an early age.” Every middle and high school in the district has a forensics and public-speaking program. Coincidentally, some of the students at Stoneman Douglas had been preparing for debates on the issue of gun control this year, which explains in part why they could speak to the issues from day one.

The student leaders of the #NeverAgain revolt were also, in large part, theater kids who had benefited from the school’s exceptional drama program. …

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Parkland Survivors: Donald Trump ‘Needs To Listen To The Screams Of The Children’

By Lee Moran
The HuffPost (3/3/18)

Survivors of last month’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, have delivered a blistering message to President Donald Trump.

Students David Hogg and Cameron Kasky joined Bill Maher on Friday’s broadcast of “Real Time” to talk about the upcoming “March For Our Lives” and their campaign for gun control.

During the wide-ranging interview, Hogg described how the White House had called him the day before the president held a “listening session” on the issue, to invite him to attend.

Hogg declined the invitation, which he called “very offensive, considering the fact that there were funerals the next day, there was mourning we still had to do.”

“I ended on this message with them. I said, ‘We don’t need to listen to President Trump. President Trump needs to listen to the screams of the children and the screams of this nation,’” Hogg said.

Kasky also delivered a strong response to members of the National Rifle Association and lawmakers who claim the student activists “don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“We’ve been locked in a classroom. We have seen our friends text their parents goodbye. We are the experts,” he said. “We know exactly what we’re talking about. How dare you tell us we don’t know?”

Check out the full interview in the clip above.

Link to Story and 9+-Minute Video