The Second Walk Out.

Poor rolly-bot.  He's not sure how to deal with being left at the Edu-Mountain.

Poor rolly-bot. He’s not sure how to deal with being left at the Edu-Mountain.

Unlike the art for the First Walk Out, the piece above is more about my feelings. The first was more centered on student thought. When the students walk out, you have a whole lot of time to dwell on different perspectives.

The Edu-Mountain is certain to become rolly-bot’s home away from home, but I can see how he might feel abandoned in the moment. Plus…we have a pretty desolate backdrop, an empty dune of some sort with Cap walking in a somber, pretty upset mood.

So…what’s this all about, True Believers? I’ll tell you.

I drew this piece during my conference period, and after school. I was trying to get a handle on my feelings, on my tone if you will, on the second day of student walkouts here in LAUSD. My classes are all at a thirty percent capacity at best, as the students literally take to the streets to express their displeasure with out current Chief Executive. Today’s walkout was largely planned via social media, as was the first. Some staff members and parents followed along to ensure the students remained safe as they exercised their right to free speech.

“Although it has been nearly a week since the presidential election, many students remain concerned about the outcome and want their voices to be heard,” Superintendent Michelle King said in a statement released by the district on Monday morning. “These are important conversations that need to take place. We want our students to know they are not alone.” I liked that idea, actually…that the students needed to know that the adults in their lives, employed by the school were with them in some way. If a school is to be a “safe space”, it has to have that support structure.

The statement continued: “However, it is critical that students not allow their sentiments to derail their education or for their actions to place them in danger. Students should limit their activities to non-instructional time and — for their own safety and to follow the law — they should remain on campus.” Obviously, there are some basic school policy issues included in that part of the statement. I’ve been talking to many of my students, the ones that don’t walk out, and they have trouble seeing the point. They feel like the election is a “done deal”, and that they don’t ant to jeopardize their hard work on something that they don’t have power over. It’s a pretty sharp contrast to the die hard protesters, who are attempting to find a kind of voice, a kind of power, where they didn’t have any.

While Superintendent Michelles King urged them to stay in class, the United Teachers Los Angeles Union encouraged their action, saying the organization “stands proudly” with the students. I have to admit…this is a really RARE occurrence where I find myself tacitly agreeing with my own, totally corrupt Union. The fact is, I stand with, and stand up for my students, regardless of whether their decisions are the best. It’s interesting to see them so engaged in something…and I feel like I have to be very quietly supportive of this kind of activism.

However…I can’t actually stand with them, because I have to be on campus to do my job. It’s an odd position to be in, really.

“We believe students should join their communities in expressing themselves through peaceful protests, a statement from UTLA read. Thankfully, the statement supported the students being involved, and supported their right to protest, instead of really encouraging them to miss class. If they were being encouraged to miss class, I’d feel like that was on less firm ground. The fact is though…there are community protests happening all the time now. It would be possible for a motivated young person to fulfill their obligations to their education, and remain involved in activism.

According to news sources, last week some 4,000 LAUSD students from 16 district schools walked out of their classes to protest the election results. That’s over twice the population of the entire Edu-Mountain where I teach. Rumor has it that there will be walkouts through Thursday.

Today, I came to school with some stuff for the Comic Book Club (run by another teacher), a proposed Droid Race with them, and a very flexible lesson plan revolving around Edgar Allan Poe. My rolly-bot seemed to stay pretty positive, if the chirping of the unit could be taken as an indicator, but over time, I got depressed. The campus was pretty deserted, and it becomes harder and harder to get things done. I’m having to move forward academically, in a way that might leave some students, and the rolly-bot, behind.

And that, True Believers, is the tone poem in picture that I scribbled out to post.

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