High School Students Rising

| 3/22/2013 3:53:00 PM

Tags: High School, Student Activism, Education Reform, Standardized Testing, Northwestern High School, Garfield High School, Waging Nonviolence, Kathryn Seidewitz.,

Faced with shrinking budgets and a test-centric reform agenda, high school students across the country are fighting back. Risking expulsion and even arrest, students are confronting broken policies with walkouts, boycotts, and other creative actions.

This post originally appeared at Waging Nonviolence.  

“You’re going to be expelled,” an administrator at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Md., just twenty minutes away from the Washington, D.C., line, told the two boys sitting in her office on March 1, 2012.

“What?” Ricardo Fuentes, then a junior, asked, feigning ignorance.

“Project Xbox.”

Project Xbox was the code-name for the walkout that Fuentes had helped plan with El Cambio, an activist student group at Northwestern, for the National Day of Action for Education that day. Hours before the walkout he and his friend had been pulled into the office and confronted by the school’s administration. Administrators had pinpointed the two boys as key organizers — though only Fuentes was actually involved — and were determined to put a stop to it. They held the boys in the room for seven hours, offering to let them out only to visit lunch periods to tell people to stop the walkout. Fuentes, already resigned to his fate, refused to cooperate.

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This is democracy in action. It can be bizarre to see the same administrators who require students to take civics courses, and to take multiple choice tests on those course's contents, punish students for this form of active civic engagement. The students and teachers are right, and some of the administrators would also likely express their agreement if they weren't faced with punishment for failure to get students to take a test that has no stakes for them.