Youth have a voice!
It’s evident everywhere you go!
They are speaking out!
Raising fists and flags and signs, shouting “Give Us” whatever it is we need!
When I was a youth (at risk of sounding old), children were seen and not heard. I recall my seventh grade teacher Mr. Barnicowski had a huge paddle over his classroom door. Engraved on it were words I wish I’d never adhered to: “Silence Is Golden.”
That’s a good statement for a learning environment, one where children need to focus and study. The problem is that today’s youth don’t have learning environments. They have chaotic classrooms led by over-taxed, under-supported, fresh-outta-college or needing-to-retire teachers. Not specifically in that order.
When youth raise concerns about over-crowded classrooms and lack of regular teachers they are seen as oppositional. When they walk out because they want to know what happened to their good teachers and school leaders they are given no answers. We’ve got it backwards.
Parents, educator and leaders, what are you willing to give up for our youth to have what they need to succeed? What are you willing to risk to make sure they are safe?
Think of it this way. If students were exposed to an old perverted staff member in the school and came to school leaders to complain about it, you would be proud they spoke up. If they were stalked on the way to school by men in a white van, we would be raising awareness about stranger danger. But when they are mistreated by not having adequate resources and safe and caring environments, you deem them insubordinate. You suspend them for walking out. You threaten them with “the entire 8th grade class will not be able to participate in the spring dance” type of punishments.
Well, the times are changing!
Youth are tired of waiting on adults to figure out what needs to be done to educate and keep them safe. They want actions now. They want to know that the adults who claim to be their teachers and leaders will stand alongside them for change.
Parents, educators, leaders, what are you willing to give up for our youth to have what they need to succeed? What are you willing to risk to make sure they are safe?
While thinking about their cries for change, does it make your heart cry with them?
They are ready, unified, not knowing exactly how to get what they want, but they do know that what they have now doesn’t work.
Walking into their schools, they fear not only their peers but us as adults. They fear that we will never have their backs. The fights are always validated when it comes down to teachers’ pay cuts and pensions. When do we validate and hear student voices? I mean really listen to their voices?
They are going to make us listen. I can guarantee you that this is the generation that will make us hear. One way or the other they are breaking their silence. Do you hear their actions? Do you hear their hearts cry? They’re trying to tell us that they need change now. Won’t you listen?
How about we be their audience for a while and let them know we understand? Because The Times They Are A-Changing!
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.