HUNTSVILLE Ala. — Many parents and teachers have come out in support of National School Walkout Day, others said it is a waste of time.
“It’s hard to take children seriously when these are the same kids that were eating tide pods,” said Bob Lytle, a former teacher. “So now they’ve gone from, ‘I’m eating a soap pod on Facebook’ to ‘I’m an activist for gun rights.'”
At some schools, teachers and students will walk out of their classrooms for 17 minutes, to call attention to school safety and remember the those killed in the Parkland school shooting. Other schools have decided not to walk out, but to still participate in other ways.
“We don’t have a gun problem, we have a children problem,” Lytle said. “We have a parental problem, we have a discipline problem.”
Some parents agreed, saying the wouldn’t let their children walk out.
“I would have told him no,” said Lacei Walker about her son. “You need to stay in school. Learning is more important.”
National organizers said the walkouts are meant to memorialize those killed in the Parkland shooting and open a dialogue about creating safer schools.
Mike Chappell taught in Huntsville city schools for 32 years, he said he knows students feel fed up but walking out may not be the answer.
“They want to make a difference, they want to do good,” Chappell said. “Maybe walking out of school is not the best solution.”
Other teachers agreed, saying there are better ways to bring about change.
“I don’t truly think it’s a necessity, though I know it will make a statement, and making a statement is never a bad thing,” said teacher, Gail Walker.
She said instead of focusing on gun violence, schools should focus on cracking down on bullying.
“Teach our children to be nice to everyone,” Walker said. “Because it’s rejection I think, that makes a lot of these people into school shooters.”
Many walkouts are completely student-run, with parents saying they support children’s decisions and have their backs if they decide to walk out of class.
“Yesterday my daughter was telling me that she was gonna walk out on Wednesday,” said parent Chasady Ochoa. “They’Wednesday, and they don’t want to get shot. They want somebody to protect them.”
At first, she was afraid her daughter would get in trouble but said she wants her to do what she thinks is right.
“I was like well, I mean if it’s something you really believe in, then do it, I’m behind you one hundred percent, whatever you believe,” Ochoa said.
After Wednesday’s National School Walkout day, there is also national “March for Our Lives” protest planned for Saturday, March 24, by survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The main march will be in Washington D.C., with other marches planned across the country.