Monday, February 17, 2020
US flag

A message to Trump on Presidents’ Day

As most teachers and students across America have a day off for the Presidents’ Day holiday, they have a strong message for President Donald Trump, for Congress, and for other governmental leaders about what happened on Valentine’s Day: Stop helping crazy people kill kids.

We remain optimistic that leaders will do the right thing to keep kids happy in school.

A lot of education “news” in this country concerns efforts to build charter schools, privatize the functions of public schools, or improve the quality of the public schools. Most of it is opinion, but even as opinion, most of it completely misses the point.

When you read what students write—and Voxitatis scans more than 3,000 high school newspapers every day of the year—almost none of them write about that stuff. A few do, and this counts as newsworthy information on a certain level. But most students, writing about the things that are important to them about their own schools, don’t even touch the subject of school improvement. This means most of this “news” is nothing more than people writing about how they should do a better job at their job: it’s not really directed at the general public.

But the #MeToo movement, jobs in the US, taxes, and gun control—well-written and cogently-argued stories about these have been flying off the pages of high school newspapers, right along with the movie and music reviews, the home sports teams’ accomplishments, and profiles of beloved teachers and fellow students. They’re coming in so fast that we really can’t keep up.

But the New York Times, the national paper of record, has even taken notice: Yesterday, the paper published an op-ed by a 15-year-old student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the mass shooting occurred last Wednesday and killed 17 teachers and students.

“Don’t Let My Classmates’ Deaths Be in Vain” was written by Christine Yared:

If a person is not old enough to be able to rent a car or buy a beer, then he should not be able to legally purchase a weapon of mass destruction. This could have been prevented. If the killer had been properly treated for his mental illness, maybe this would not have happened. If there were proper background checks, then those who should not have guns would not have them.

As we know, kids can write, and Voxitatis has been publishing student writing for years:

And we continue today and as far into the future as we can. Because the call among students who are too young to vote for serious gun control reform is so loud right now that everything else fails to break the news cycle. News agencies that can’t take a lead from us in publishing student writing can now take one from the brilliant editors at the New York Times.

Note to student journalists: There is no official way to spell this holiday, and sources differ as to the preferred spelling. The Chicago Manual of Style says to use the plural possessive, as we have. The Associated Press style guide says to use just the plural and leave off the apostrophe altogether.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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