When it comes to student walkouts in Boston, it’s easy to write the script before it happens and so, on this eve of Student Walkout 2.0
, it might be fun to save those in the media some time and lay out in advance how it’s all gonna go. The “Grassroots” playbook, in all its glory, will be out in full force:
You Gotta Have Art
Journalists and others will be encouraged to attend to the walkout. They will be besieged on social media with pictures and videos, and will be encouraged to share their own. Pay no attention to the pesky data and graphs that show Boston Public School spending has increased by 24% in the past five years. Pay attention to these students showing their voice about those cuts!
Pay No Attention to the Adults Behind the Curtain
Students will be held up as the drivers of the event. Union leaders and other “concerned adults” will call themselves chaperones and will hold fast to the lie that they are only there to help and will insist that they played no role in the planning or the execution. The last walkout and the “walk-in” on May 4th literally came with media playbooks from union-backed Alliance to Reclaim our Public Schools, and supporters of the event still claimed that it was student-driven.
Where Did They Get Those Buttons?
While they’ll miss class time (again) to walk out under the guise of budget cuts and unfair funding, it will be about more than that. Students will miraculously end up donning “Keep The Cap” stickers but, like last time, will likely be unable to explain to those of us who ask, what a charter school even is.
Reporters Report on What Has Already Been Reported
Outlets like Boston.com and others will continue to recycle the same versions of this story that they have since September, allowing themselves to be pushed by advocates and loud folks on social media about what the narrative should be instead of what it actually is. Just this morning at 5 am a non-story story posted that contained zero new information but curiously failed to even make mention of tomorrow’s walk-out. No reason to give the public a heads up today when you can be front and center tomorrow gleefully linking back to your non-story about potential school closures while also pretending that nothing larger is going on with these “grass roots” student uprisings. I mean, having earned media play your long game for you is like living the dream for the Save Our Schools crowd.
Everyone knows that it’s no coincidence that Councilor Tito Jackson invited students to participate in a budget hearing at City Hall that takes place at 2 pm on a school day. This fits right into the whole “grassroots” playbook that we have come to know so well. “See – even the kids agree with me! Why won’t those other mean elected officials just give us more money!”
Let’s not get it twisted people. Just because we believe in student voice doesn’t mean that we don’t also believe in adult voice. We can’t turn the budget over to a small group of self-interested grown ups hiding behind students who only have part of the story.
Boston deserves leadership from its Mayor and Superintendent to stand up for all of their students – especially the ones that spend the full day in school tomorrow.