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Performative protest culture needs to end

Unrelated school walkouts pose negative impact to school funding, lack impactful change
Walkouts about non-school related issues threaten school funding and disrupt learning without making lasting progress in the issues they claim to advocate for.
Morgan Eye
Walkouts about non-school related issues threaten school funding and disrupt learning without making lasting progress in the issues they claim to advocate for.

I am becoming fed up with the adoption of performance-activist culture by students at McCallum in recent years. Recent walkouts have posed risk to school funding and have lacked the educational value that protests are supposed to have. That is not to say that I oppose school walkouts altogether; however, with the scheduled pro-peace protest coming up this Monday, I wanted to address my grievances with school protests and their effectiveness in addressing social, bureaucratic and political issues, as well as address the manner in which protests are effective at school. 

By protesting issues that have no relevance in a school setting, not only are we threatening school funding by significantly decreasing attendance (the TEA bases their funding margins on school-by-school attendance), we are also providing people an excuse to cut class and disrupting class testing and lesson plans for unnecessary reasons. For example, a protest against the reversal of Roe v. Wade was hosted on May 12, 2022. The walkout was in protest of the possible reversal of Roe V Wade. Various AP tests were happening during the duration of the walkout, and the chanting and use of megaphones posed a risk of distracting testers. Administration had no ability to do anything about Roe v. Wade. They are not our lawmakers. So what is the point of skipping classes and disrupting attendance if the TEA, district and administration have no weight in the matter?

Keeping this in mind, if we as a student body want to spread awareness and educate people on global issues, would it not be more effective to reach the correct audience and still respect school funding by hosting a club or lunch meeting? If people are truly as passionate about the issues we are protesting as they claim to be, I believe they would attend any meeting hosted at an appropriate time. This would keep students from using protests as an excuse to cut class and would pose the same outcome: educating people on an issue. Because let’s be honest; any meeting or protest held at school will not be seen by lawmakers or make significant change. The whole point should be to educate.

In no way am I saying that we should remove protests from school altogether. There have been effective demonstrations at McCallum that have led to real change, such as the Nov. 15, 2021 sexual assault walkout. The basis of the protest was to address school policies regarding sexual harassment and assault cases at school and their ineffectiveness. By walking out and dropping student attendance, administrators were encouraged to make steps towards change, such as the creation of the student-led organization “Knights Against Sexual Assault.” The organization, originally sponsored by math teacher Kelly Wroblewski, is now sponsored by counselor Loren Croom and its formation was a direct result of the walkout. The formation of KASA led to the assembly educating about consent later that year, as well as a “Healthy Relationship Support Group” to be created, facilitated weekly by counselors from “Expect Respect—a program of SAFE.” Though no policies were changed, the protest was effective and paved the way for real change at school. Because this protest was school-related and directly targeted the TEA and school admin, walking out was not a waste of time. 

All this to say, protests need to be held in the spaces in which they are relevant. I encourage all those planning on attending the Pro-Peace walkout on Monday to instead allocate their time at a Capitol march where lawmakers and representatives are more likely to hear your voice. There is nothing that the TEA or AISD administration can do about the Palestine-Israel conflict. Your lawmakers can. Put pressure on them and not our school funding. 

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  • P

    Pablo ArteagaDec 29, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    I agree with all of these points. Protests are meant to be disruptive, but school walkouts are generally an ineffective variety of disruption. School funding is negatively affected due to the lack of attendance (though in my opinion, that’s stupid and also needs to end), and too many students use it as an excuse to skip class. I am a freshman, but at Lamar last school year, we had a protest against gun violence. Probably a couple of dozen people were protesting, while the rest of the students were running around wildly and jumping the fence into a construction zone.

    With this latest walkout, there was little communication about it. I asked around for the where and when and no one knew. Some of my classmates didn’t even know there was one or what it was about. It turned out it was during lunch, and I missed it due to a lengthy lunch line and… I don’t know, a need for sustenance after four hours.

  • B

    Beatrix LozachDec 6, 2023 at 11:58 pm

    So, as someone who attended the walkout (there were five people there,) and has been to a Capitol march in solidarity with the humanitarian crisis and genocide in Gaza, I have some thoughts.

    First of all, the person who organized it didn’t even show up. He used it as an excuse to cut class, and I heard it directly from him just today.

    Second of all, the walkout was productive because the person who the organizer entrusted to lead it was immensely knowledgeable on the subject, and thus, was able to educate those among us who were less informed, including a random adult who came up to us and urged us to “consider both sides.” She began the conversation with “I’m Jewish, and-” failing to account for the fact that two of us there were Jewish, myself and the leader. We didn’t tell her that. Frankly, I know I didn’t feel comfortable to.

    One of the most wretched things about this conflict is how Zionists have tried to make the Jewish people a monolith, when we are infinitely diverse in every conceivable way- including ideology.

    Third, it’s not as if the marches are that productive anyway. When I went we chanted things, took pictures, shared stories, and the pro-Israel protestors tried to shout us down. We couldn’t speak to policymakers, and the committee that organized it was quite inept.

    Fourth, the walkout was during lunch. Some people came early and that was their responsibility. It wasn’t intended to be disruptive. Maybe that was the problem. Walkouts at McCallum will be perpetually ineffective as long as the administration isn’t required to do its due diligence on maintaining the mental and physical health of its students through addressing social justice issues.

  • J

    Jeff HDec 4, 2023 at 9:13 am

    Who cares this is a stupid topic to whine and complain about let people protest its not a big deal calm down go