By: Krystle Crossman
The Alma Del Mar Charter School in Bedford, Massachusetts was in the spotlight this week after a group of protesters stood outside on the street calling for action against the unjust practices of the police in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting death of Michael Brown. They stood on the roads with signs urging motorists to honk if they shared the views of the protesters. They also held signs that said “Don’t shoot me, Ferguson”. The thing that was the most unusual about this group of protesters was that they were all 7 and 8 years old.
A parent of one of the students at the charter school said that he had found a flyer in his child’s backpack about the protest. It said that they should protest against the system that allows police officers to kill black men. The parent, George Borden, was not happy that this flyer had been given to his 7 year old. He was even more angry with the fact that his child came up to him when they got home from school and asked if he shot people as he is a police officer. He went to the school to speak to the teacher about this matter but the school stated that they stood behind the protest. They said that it was a good civics lesson for the kids.
The founder of the charter school, Wil Gardner, stated that the teachers sent home a notice to the parents that the students would be learning about diversity and current events in the news in class. They were allowed to opt out of the discussions if they wished. He said that the teacher did not organize the protest, it was something that the group of second graders did. Gardner said that they discourage the teachers from telling the children about their own personal political beliefs and views but felt that it was good for the children to get a lesson about diversity, racism, and cultures.
The question remains though, how young is too young? In second grade should these children be taught about this kind of violence? Should they be engaging in protests about something that adults are still struggling to come to terms with? Do they even understand what exactly it is that they are protesting for?