In Ames, Iowa, members of the band and the student body engaged in a silent protest against racial inequality at a high school football game and the school board is showing other schools around the country exactly how they should be dealing with such protests instead of what we’ve seen many times now. They released this statement:
Across the country, and within the Ames community, we’re divided on this topic. Some find it a disrespectful tactic to those who have served in our military, while others see it as a nonviolent free speech stance unrelated to patriotism. Based simply on the sheer number of comments on some social media posts, we don’t anticipate finding a common ground any time soon.
As a school district, and at Ames High, we want to take their high school experience as an opportunity to build leaders. As administrators and teachers, we want to be a voice in the process, not the voice whenever possible. Whether you applaud our students or think they should be disciplined, consider the opposite side for a moment.
Over the past week, we saw our students engaged with how to improve their school. They were active and did it the right way: by communicating their feelings, and collaborating together to come up with a solution. They didn’t resort to violence, and they didn’t resort to one-sided arguments.
When we look back at our mission statement, it is these moments that help ensure “that all learners develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and personal esteem necessary to grow in and shape a changing society.”
How refreshing to see a school board accept the motivations of the protesters as genuine, sincere and even justified. And to support their students who are doing nothing more than exercising their Constitutional right to engage in protest in an attempt to push society to change for the better. That’s a school board that gets it, in stark contrast to many others around the country that have reacted to similar actions with heavyhandedness, oppressive tactics and hysteria.
The whole point of education is to produce informed and motivated citizens who care enough to be engaged in the continual process of making America a better place for all of us. Those students should be applauded. So should the board for supporting them. Well done.