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Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 28, 2018

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

Bold idea: Texas school shooting spurs talk of pupil boycotts nationwide in September

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1.gifFind coverage of school safety or the overall gun policy debate. Choose a vivid quote or one reflecting your view.

2.gifRead about education at any level and summarize two things you discover.

3.gifNow look for a story or photo about one or more young people. What’s newsworthy?

The most recent school shooting in a seemingly endless series has pushed a radical idea into serious discussion. "Maybe it's time for America's 50 million school parents to simply pull their kids out of school until we have better gun laws," suggests Peter Cunningham, an assistant secretary of education during the last presidency. His Obama administration boss, ex-Education Secretary Arne Duncan, agrees and tweets: "This is brilliant, and tragically necessary. What if no children went to school until gun laws changed to keep them safe? My family is all in if we can do this at scale. Parents, will you please join us?" He clarified on "CBS Sunday Morning" that he envisions a September boycott of "a few days," adding: "It's time to change the game. Our lives literally depend on it."

A few current education administrators endorse the drastic idea, which Duncan knows may be tough to make happen. "It was definitely intended to be thought-provoking," he says. "But there is clearly, as of now, very significant interest. . . . Let's see if it develops, let's see if it continues to pick up momentum. If you could do something in September, you’d see whether politicians move or not."

The bold proposal for some kind of mass school boycott is floated in reaction to a May 18 gunfire at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that killed eight students and two teachers at an art class. A 17-year-old student is accused of firing a shotgun and handgun in the massacre near Houston. "It's time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again" in the state, Gov. Greg Abbott said hours after the deaths. (See video below.) Last week he set up a panel to discuss proposals. "We want to hear from parents, we want to hear from students, we want to hear from educators, we want to hear from concerned citizens," he says. "We want to hear from those who hold the Second Amendment right [to bear arms] in high esteem . . . so we can work together on putting together laws that will protect Second Amendment rights, but at the same time ensure that our communities and especially our schools are safer." One of his suggestions is having no more than two unlocked entry doors at schools, which he says should be monitored with metal detectors. The Republican governor also thinks schools should consider screening students' social media posts for threats or troubling behavior.

In Washington, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reacts with outrage and urgency. "This is the 15th school shooting this year and we still haven't taken action in Congress to address this epidemic," she says. "We cannot accept this as normal. We must address gun violence." Since a 1999 shooting at Columbine High in Colorado, 32 states have passed laws requiring schools to conduct lockdown drills or some form of emergency drill to keep students safe from intruders. Six states now mandate yearly "active shooter" drills. But national gun legislation remains politically risky, particularly for members of Republican majorities in both congressional branches. "The fact that we can't get that done in this country, it just . . . it breaks my heart,” says Duncan, education secretary from 2009-15. "I'm angry. I'm infuriated."

Santa Fe student says: "It's been happening everywhere. I've always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too." – Paige Curry after May 18 shooting at her Texas school

Senator says: "The horrifying inaction of Congress, slaughter after slaughter, has become a green light to would-be shooters, who pervert silence into endorsement." – U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Columnist says: "Sheltering in place, ducking for cover, running for your life have become a routine part of our children’s educational experience. This is not normal and must never be accepted as such. Neither are these shootings normal. This is all insanity." – Charles Blow, The New York Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2018
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