My son skipped school today.

Today my son’s entire school skipped 2nd hour to support the teachers and protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed bill to strip most public employees of their collective bargaining rights and to reduce some of their benefits.

(This thread is not about the bill, whether it makes sense or not, who’s right or who’s wrong. )

I have a huge problem with teachers encouraging the children to skip class and protest something that most of them (the students) know nothing about. I don’t doubt at all that it was at some level teacher initiated or at least encouraged. To go from everything’s fine before 1st hour to everyone knows to leave the building for second hour takes a little more planning than most students are able to do at any time let alone while they’re in class.

When I asked my son what was the point of the protest he said “to support the teachers”. I asked him what issues are being protested and he had no idea. All he could tell me is that some teacher has a brother who is going to school to be a teacher and now he says he’s not coming back to Wisconsin and that “some teachers will be leaving”.

This could have been a really good time for the teachers to educate the students about unions, the importance of studying actual issues when voting, they could have studied the actual issues in the bill, or the difference between affective protest and useless protest.

I talked to my son a little bit and told him that skipping one class was not a big deal but that in the future before he joins in a protest he should know exactly what he’s protesting and whether or not there are more affective ways to make a statement. I told him the governor really didn’t care if his whole school skipped one hour and marched around outside and that if one of his teachers decided to have a pop quiz and flunk everyone he could, and then he would have protested something he didn’t even know if he agreed with or not and also ruined his grade.

Now tomorrow there might not be school because they predict not enough teachers will show up to work. My son won’t even be able to serve his punishment for skipping class!

It’s a shame that the kids were brought into this. A delegation of teachers should have remained behind to watch, care for and educate the students. I’m tired of public employees blackmailing us every time we taxpayers don"t want to grant them a raise or other privaledge that we don’t have in the private sector. When cops called out, they called it the “blue flu.” It scared everyone so we would agree to be held captive to their rediculous retirement benefit package. The public worker’s unions have got us by the balls. Our taxes will soar and we’ll keep funding their high brow retirement system… Thank you, state legislators!!!

When I was in high school a few years ago a bunch of the Mexican students had a walk out, presumably to protest immigration laws. There was a bit of a lollercaust when a bunch of them were questioned on the local news about what they were protesting for and none of them could answer. As to “no kids could plan this”, a lot of these kids hadn’t known in advance (though a bunch did) that they’d be walking out. But they saw everyone else walking out and just decided to go with it. None of them got into trouble because the school would have had to give detention to most of the population. I don’t want to say that it’s impossible for young people to care about or get involved with political issues but due to my experience I tend to assume that kids who do this sort of stuff are just looking to get a day out of school.

Me, I enjoyed the days of the walk outs. It was only me and a few others in all of my classes so we were allowed to basically do whatever we wanted. :slight_smile:

I have a huge problem with the teachers using the kids to protest an issue that the teachers are having. Yes, the kids WILL have to deal with the consequences if a lot of teachers have to quit. But most kids have enough trouble trying to decide what clothes to wear in the morning, and don’t know anything about politics.

Of course, this is gonna vary, depending on whether we’re talking about grade schoolers or high schoolers. High school kids quite frequently do have opinions on politics. Maybe their opinions are naive, but they do have opinions. But I still don’t think that teachers should be encouraging kids to skip school.

I think that’s the problem here - not that they don’t know about “politics”, but that they don’t know what’s going on in the world around them. It’s a shame that the parents aren’t watching the news with their kids, providing their kids with a newspaper, and discussing these issues with them. It seems like people expect kids to have their 18th birthday, then all of a sudden turn into informed, involved citizens. I think if kids are interested in demonstrating for a cause, the response should not be to tell them to keep their heads low and worry about the pop quiz they might have; it should be to sit down and discuss the different sides of the issue and encourage the kids to speak up.

I’m a public employee. In the last two years, our raises have been a whopping 1% and 1.5%. I’ve never had a raise higher than 3% in 6 years. A while ago, there was a thread about how long it took you to double your starting salary. I said I didn’t think I ever would, and people were shocked. But we’re the problem now.

They’re not protesting a lack of a wage raise; they’re protesting mandatory 10-20% salary cuts and loss of collective bargaining rights, among other things. Plus from what I’ve been reading, there actually isn’t the catastrophic budget crisis there that the WI governor is claiming. It’s not all roses, mind you, but it’s being blown out of proportion.

I don’t think teachers should be convincing students to sit out, but you would be surprised at how quickly word of a protest can spread in a school from the upper grades to the lower. Kids like doing stuff like this because they like getting out of class, and they like doing things that make them feel important. There was a lot of talk going around yesterday about planned class walkouts, and with the growing number of (smart)phones and Internet-savvy kids, I would not at all be surprised if this wouldn’t have required any teacher influence at all. Kids probably even questioned their own teachers about what was going on, and the littler kids joined in to be part of the group.

Yeah, I wouldn’t blame the teachers for encouraging the walkout without AMPLE evidence. Kids can organize a walk out. There are high school kids savvy enough to know what the issues are and who are actually doing it as a political stand. The rest often just follow.

I agree that there is an issue with him engaging in a political activity he didn’t understand. Don’t support political causes simply because “everyone else was walking out.” Even if the teacher encouraged it. Walking out over a cause you are educated and informed about and believe strongly in - strongly enough to take the consequences - that should make a parent proud.

The kids were used as a tool. This is a good lesson in itself. The OP’s child will soon be going out into the world. Guess what? People get used, A LOT.

While I agree the OP makes a point and is correct, what are you going to do about it?

When things like this happen, it’s best not to dwell on it. You can’t change what has happened. You can’t change the world, but you CAN change your piece of it.

If it was my child, I’d take him aside and explain to him the situation and how he was used. The child will probably respond, “who cares, I got out of class.”

So now is the time to educate your kid so he won’t be used in the future. The point being you can learn from anything, and learning NOT to be used, at an early age, can be a very good thing.

Public school teachers have been using students like this for years.

Of course the kids don’t understand or (in most cases) even care about the Big Picture; they are excited for the change in routine and a chance to goof off.

I’ve heard more from other parents of how the teachers have been jamming their own agenda down the kids’ throats all week leading up to this.

I also found out that students were allowed to leave school grounds and march to the village hall as a protest. We have a closed campus and students are not allowed off campus without permission from their parents. Get hundreds of high spirited kids together skipping school and countless things could have gone very wrong. We’re lucky kids didn’t get in their cars and get in accidents or run into protesters.

I think that once the teachers knew of the protest plans they should have stopped it by thanking the students for their support and saying they would rather the students stay in school and discuss the facts. But I know they thought the protest would be great for their cause. Really, it all backfired because most the parents are pretty upset about this and the closing of the schools.

I’m going to try to avoid this whole issue for a while and compose a letter to the school board superintendent.

I am so very disappointed that the teachers and administrators of the school do not know how to be adults about their work.

Holy shit, people double their salaries? I’m in my fourth year, stuck at my second-year salary; the only change it’s seen since my second year is the year I got a .5% pay cut due to a tiny little furlough, and the loss of merit pay given to teachers at schools with high growth as recorded in test scores (used to be $1500, then dropped to something like $750, now gone entirely), and a reduction in health care benefits. I’ve paid $2500 out-of-pocket just to apply for a highly rigorous (as in takes hundreds of hours to prepare for) certification, so that I can get a 15% pay raise next year, knowing that our new state congress is not planning on giving us any raises whatsoever for the foreseeable future–and now they’re talking about removing that 15% pay raise for gaining additional certification. And I write this from the state with the lowest teacher pay relative to cost of living.

I’m having trouble feeling sympathy for folks besides the teachers here.

This is what I was going to say but Mark already said it. So there you go.

You can’t change that the walkout happened and you can’t stop one from happening again. You can educate your kid about this situation and encourage him to educate himself about future situations. Turn something negative into a positive life experience. Grades don’t mean shit in the real world, I would not make that a focus.

No, I didn’t make grades the focus. That’s just a consequence I used as an example because it is something he can understand. My point is that there are two sides to everything and if you’re going to do something that can negatively impact your own life, in support of someone else, you’d better make sure you actually do support their side.

We had a student-organized walkout at my suburban DC high school to protest the Iraq war way back in 2003. The administration made some noise and warnings about it until they realized that kids were not being dissuaded and were going to do it anyway, then they changed tack. We were told that it was OK to walk out but at our own risk of missing classwork and that we had to go sit in the cafeteria if we were going to participate. I didn’t get involved, but I liked that solution: it was happening whether they wanted it to or not, so they gave students a vehicle to express themselves but kept everybody inside and supervised.

I organised a strike when I was 13 in support of another student who had been unfairly punished. We walked into our maths class, all fine, and by the next lesson most of the school was on strike. This was in the days before mobile phones or instant messaging - it was people walking around telling each other, people seeing what was happening and just joining in. There’s no way you can claim that kids wouldn’t or couldn’t organise such a thing themselves.

I think you dangerously underestimate:
A) The planning capacity of teenagers
B) How much kids LOVE missing school, and
C) How fast and easily word gets around a high school, ESPECIALLY when the word has to do with them missing 2nd period.

A few seniors got together one day and said “Hey, we should totally have a walk-out during second period on Thursday, that way I’ll have an extra day to work on my English presentation! And if we do it to ‘support the teachers,’ we probably won’t get into any trouble!”
So Thursday morning they go to their respective homerooms, spread the word there. Then they get a pass to go to the bathroom, and on the way encounter 4 or 5 other students and spread the word to them. By the start bell rings in first period 80% of the upperclassmen have heard the rumor. The remaining 20% and the underclassmen are clued in between 1st and 2nd period. When 2nd period starts and students see that the first few brave souls to stand up and walk out aren’t disciplined, the rest of the school follows suit within about 30 seconds.

Of course that’s what would have happened a decade ago when I was in HS, utilizing only word-of-mouth and maybe a few well-placed notes. Today the whole plot could be conceived, hatched, and promulgated to everyone in the school in less than 5 minutes using a few well-placed texts.

I will take back my teacher organized and go with teacher encouraged or at least NOT teacher discouraged.

Not paying teachers, when there is plenty of alternative employment in the same field by moving elsewhere seems to me to be an excellent way to reduce your workforce capacity.

It is never sensible to blow your own brains out.

I think this is important. Sure, they like the day off, but it’s also an opurtunity where a group of people that are usually told their opinions don’t matter and to sit down and shut up, actually have an opportunity to do something noteworthy have have their opinions noticed.