[guest post by Dana]
Demonstrating a fear of expanding their own forming political views, students at Bronx Lighthouse College Preparatory Academy threatened a walk-out if Ted Cruz, a vigorous supporter of school choice and charter schools, was allowed to discuss education at their charter school today:
A group of students will be leaving during 4th period, as act of civil disobedience in regards to the arrival of Ted Cruz to BLCPA. We have all considered the consequences of our actions and are willing to accept them. We respect you and all the staff at BLCPA as well as the expected guests. But we want you to understand that as passionate students, we have ideas and principles that should be heard and respected. This walk out isn’t a reflection of our discontent with BLCPA but our opportunity to stand up for our community and future. This walk out is taking place because we as students all share a common idea.
The presence of Ted Cruz and the ideas he stands for are offensive. His views are against ours and are actively working to harm us, our community, and the people we love. He is misogynistic, homophobic, and racist. He has used vulgar language, gestures, and profanity directed at a scholar and staff members, along with harassing and posing threats to staff and scholars according to the Disciplinary Referral slip. This is not to be taken kiddingly or as a joke. We are students who feel the need and right to not be passive to such disrespect.
As misguided as the students revealed themselves to be, it was the response of the principal that so plainly evidenced the narrow-mindedness of many of those in education today:
“Your points are eloquently argued — in fact, so eloquently argued that upon reading your email, Khori Whittaker, the CEO of Lighthouse Academies has agreed to cancel the visit,” Duggins replied.
“I’d like to commend you and the other students for your commitment to your beliefs and values. I believe that I would not have been able to get the visit cancelled without your actions.”
Validation of the absurd! Apparently Principal Duggins did not want Cruz to speak at the school either. Thank God she had students to do the heavy lifting for her. And if Cruz’s intended audience today included students and staff, how sad that such an incredible learning opportunity where young people could challenge, question, and engage with a presidential candidate about his views on education was lost because of something as debilitating as fear. And worse, how sad that two adults, CEO Whittaker and Principal Duggins, gave in to these fears. Where was a real adult to encourage open minds, or at the very least, curious minds? Were none willing to challenge Cruz’s positions, question him, and most importantly, engage with him ? Because if there is anything we have learned about Ted Cruz, it’s that he is willing to engage with any who challenge him. He wants to explain himself and his views. And perhaps that is the real problem here.
These students are fools. But surely the biggest fools of all are CEO Whittaker and Principal Duggins. Unfortunately, the young people in their charge already resemble them in far too many ways. Ways that weaken and ways that limit.
And do you know who really doesn’t like school choice and charter schools? Democrats, that’s who.