People are taking their voices to the streets, to their city’s capitol and to the nation’s capital.
It’s refreshing to some. Proof of media and political manipulation to others.
The latest cause is increased education funding, including higher teacher pay. In many areas, young people are standing alongside their parents, in solidarity with their educators and support staff.
But if you’re NOT in favor of the protests and the walk out, how do you talk to your child about it?
The issue is complicated if you’re a parent who supports the teachers getting raises but you don’t support the walkout or the protests.
Kathy Cowan, a spokeswoman for the National Association of School Psychologists, offers these tip for maintaining an open and civil discourse in and out of the classroom, before and after the walkout.
Have the conversation – don’t avoid the topic.
Yes, it seems basic. But you can’t simply turn off the news. Even if teachers stick to geometry and the state capitals in class, the topic of teacher pay and walkouts or strikes WILL come up in your child’s world while talking to friends.
Talk about it so your child has a frame of reference that involves you.
Be honest about what’s driving your viewpoint.
Phoenix resident Keri Granado said she support teachers’ efforts for raises but not the protests or the walkouts. Her 12-year-old daughter will be home on Thursday and Friday as her teachers seek more education funding.
Granado said she doesn’t want her daughter to be part of walkouts or other #RedforEd endeavors.
“If you’re passionate about something, there’s another way to go about it,” Granado said, adding that she believes a walkout is a strike and is therefore illegal by Arizona law.
“We’ve got kids with special needs with IEPs that go to school year round that are not going to get the special services they need. We got children who get reduced and free breakfasts and lunch who aren’t going to get the services they need. We have vacation schedules that are messed up from added on days at the end of the year.
It is hurting the kids.”
After researching what parents were saying about the walkout on social media and in education-centric groups, it appears there are four primary reasons detractors oppose the walkout.
Among the reasons parents SAY THEY don’t support walkouts:
- It’s not the right way to negotiate more money.
- Kids are the ones held hostage.
- It’s “against the law” for teachers to strike.
- Teachers salaries are actually better than other public servants.
Frame the conversation so that it’s about your child’s schooling.
Don’t want your child at any protests, walk-ins or school board meetings? Tell the truth about why, but put it into words that reflect the best interest of the child, Rowe said.
“Say, ‘I think it’s important that you spend that time in the classroom learning or on your math homework.’ Or, ‘I’m concerned with the potential risk of violence and you might not know how to handle it in that situation.'”
Set expectations for teens, but prepare for push back.
Older teenagers may choose to exercise their rights as citizens of a community and side with teachers. They may join not just social-media campaigns and in wearing red but also by writing letters to school lawmakers or join organized protests.
Parents can attempt their powers of persuasion toward their thinking but…teenagers will be teenagers, Rowe said.
Parents should still set expectations and boundaries, she said.
Prepare children for opposing points of view.
One of the best reasons to discuss the issues, Rowe said, is so that children are prepared when it comes up informally among classmates.
Give them real, actionable responses if their classmates ask why they are or are not participating. Rowe suggests it’s OK to say nothing or things like:
“I wasn’t able to participate. I had to stay home and take home of my little sister.”
“I didn’t feel as strongly as you did.”
“It would have upset my parents.”
Rowe says the child will most likely share the reason (in the best interest of the child) that was discussed with the parent during these discussions.
It’s never OK, Rowe said, for teachers or staff to penalize or set apart any student who does not support or whose parents do not support the recent wave of teacher protests, Rowe said, adding:
“The important piece of information is that parents need to speak ahead of time about it. And freedom of speech means that it’s OK not to participate as well.”