"We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved."
The Parkland school shooting survivors sparked an inspiring nationwide movement of student protest against gun violence — but according to the Houston Chronicle, Curtis Rhodes, superintendent of the Houston-area Needville Independent School District, plans to suspend anyone in his schools who joins the national demonstrations.
"Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved. All will be suspended for 3 days and parent notes will not alleviate the discipline," Rhodes wrote in a letter sent out to every family.
Rhodes is referring to the series of school walkouts that have been sweeping the nation in the lead-up to the student marches planned in the coming weeks, and which he wants to make clear are not welcome in his school district.
Added Rhodes, "A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally. A disruption of the school will not be tolerated."
Rhodes appears determined to silence the genuine concerns of any student who does not want to live in fear of a violent tragedy. But if his concern is to keep his schools running properly, it makes no sense to back the status quo on guns.
The risk of shootings has become disruptive to the learning environment nationwide, with 94 percent of schools now having to stage "active shooter drills," and 12 other school districts in the Houston area alone announcing emergency plans.
This is not something any school should have to spend time and money putting students and teachers through.
Everyone deserves a basic right to feel safe in a taxpayer-funded public facility. And civil disobedience by the young is a time-honored, all-American tradition and a staple of social change.
Rather than threatening students, Rhodes should engage with them and hear their concerns. Attempts to stifle their message will only increase the volume.