Statement by Board Trustee Madhavi Sunder
(Madhavi Sunder, Board Trustee, made the following statement at March 15, 2018 Davis School Board Meeting).
I would like to request that the Board address the issue of discipline for student walkouts at our next scheduled meeting on April 5.
I believe that the district and the Board failed to take advantage of a unique educational opportunity that this emergent national youth movement presents. A million children mobilized peacefully and passionately across the country at 10 a.m. yesterday to tell their elected representatives in Washington, DC that the right to be safe and secure in school is a fundamental human right.
I am incredibly proud that 1300 Davis students joined them. More than 200 elementary school students in Davis participated in the organized national walkout, heeding the lesson that our district has been teaching them from kindergarten that if you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up. Our Junior High and High School students spent the 17 minutes giving students information about how to contact their representatives in Washington and registering students who will be 18 in ‘18 to vote. I was proud to stand with some 200 students at Holmes Jr. High, where the students ended the walkout with a 2 minute “Die-In” where students laid out on the green while the names of the 17 Parkland victims were read aloud.
Districts across the country, including LA Unified, encouraged schools to participate in the 17 minute program to honor the 17 victims in Parkland who were killed one month ago.
I am disappointed that Davis took a tentative approach to this national event, the purpose of which was first and foremost to honor the innocent fallen – students, teachers and staff. We are all Parkland. I believe it would have been empowering to Davis students, teachers and staff to have more fully supported their engagement in this national moment of mourning and advocacy for safe schools.
The walkout to commemorate the victims in Parkland was about healing through a national trauma together, and honoring innocent child victims and the heroic teachers and coaches who put their lives on the line for their students.
These students have just begun. Next time – which I believe will be as soon as next month – our district should be better prepared. I would like the opportunity for our Board to think about what our district policy should be going forward. This is an unprecedented moment, and our schools must be creative in engaging our students’ passion and desire to effect change in our democracy. This, after all, is why we are here – to teach our students that they can make a difference, that the world needs their knowledgeable, compassionate, courageous voice.
If we in the schools don’t show them how to be thoughtful and engaged citizens, who will?