(Photo from Mail Tribune)
Teachers of the Eagle Point School District in southern Oregon have given a strike notice for Tuesday, May 8th. Some students are supporting the teachers. From the Mail Tribune article “’It’s Our Education’: Eagle Point students Walk Out in Support of Teachers” by Ryan Pfeil (here):
Pinkham, a 17-year-old senior at the high school, joined a crowd of about 100 students, several of whom held similar signs in a public protest at about 12:40 p.m. Thursday.
Students walked out of their classrooms, marched out of school and gathered at the intersection of Highway 62 and Linn Road near Walmart, waving signs and chanting "Eagle Power" while receiving a volley of honks from passing motorists.
Their message was largely one of support for teachers and other school employees.
I don’t think students should leave school classes to protest, and I don’t think teachers should directly appeal to students during school for support. Students should not be used by teachers as part of their labor relations. If that’s what happened, I agree with State Representative Dennis Richardson that such behavior is “despicable” (here).
But I do think students should protest, and I encourage them to do so, but not on school time and with a different agenda. Unfortunately, the teachers the Eagle Point students respect are preventing students getting the education they will need in the years ahead. The teachers’ unions oppose expanded online learning opportunities (like Florida, Idaho, and Washington states have), oppose more foreign language immersion programs (like Utah has), and opposed school districts (or state government) paying for high school years abroad. The world has changed, and teachers’ unions are preventing schools from adapting. As I wrote of Portland Public School students (here):
I’m all for political engagement. But I am disappointed that their demands do not include those I advocate (more foreign language immersion programs, more high school study abroad opportunities and more online course offerings). They are, I think, reacting to proposed Portland Public School cuts. They seem unaware of the larger world issues for which the current PPS educational programs leave their generation unprepared. They also seem unaware of the role of teachers' unions in restricting their educational opportunities.
Eagle Point students, like their Portland Public School peers, do not seem well informed of the changing global economic and political environment they will live in. They seem to want to hold on to the status quo in a world that calls for change. They should protest for educational change, not just more of the same. The students are being short changed in their educational opportunities, and the teachers' unions are responsible.