Some Ashland Middle School teachers and staff took an innovative approach to Friday’s National School Walkout Day. At 7:30 a.m., they assembled briefly on the sidewalk outside the school, displaying signs supporting efforts to curb gun violence. At 8 a.m. they “walked in” to the building and went to work.
The teachers said they were making a statement that their primary focus is on doing their jobs — educating students — and they could best do that from inside their classrooms. Meanwhile, students from Ashland High School, the middle school and some elementary students walked from their schools to the Plaza to call for action to prevent further gun violence in schools.
Friday’s protests were timed to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. They follow previous protests in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
The students have every reason to be disturbed at the thought that their school could be the next Parkland, or the next Columbine. And marching to express their concern, their fear and their determination is entirely appropriate.
It is also appropriate for teachers to remind everyone that their job is education, not armed combat, and that they should not have to carry a gun or to practice “active shooter drills” to prepare for the next massacre. That was the message delivered by the middle school staff on Friday.
Lawmakers at the state and federal levels should be paying attention.