Why Iowa Students are Walking Out in ProtestBreaking News
tags: culture war, teaching history, student activism
In light of recent education bills at the Iowa Legislature, whether it’s promoting vouchers for private schools or restricting what teachers are allowed to mention in class, many Iowa students are getting fed up. And they’re standing up.
Friday afternoon in Johnston, a group of close to 100 students walked out of class and stood on school grounds to talk about those bills, explain how they’re impacting Iowa students and teachers, and encourage their peers to register to vote and to elect different legislators.
“I think the biggest thing now is putting people in positions of power that actually will do the work and will care and represent the student voices that are speaking out about this,” said Waverly Zhao, a junior at Johnston High School who helped lead the walkout.
The walkout was organized by students and two student organizations, Johnston Community of Racial Equity (CORE) Club and Iowa WTF.
And Johnston was only one of several with recent walkouts. Thursday, students walked out at Ankeny and other events have been planned for public and private high schools in Ames, West Des Moines, Des Moines, and possibly Waukee. All are organized by student groups, and generally around the same issue of not having their voices heard about their educations. Students have also held walkouts in recent months in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.
Specifically, students are calling out House File 2577, the bill that requires teachers to post every single piece of classroom material online, and Senate File 2369, the bill which allows vouchers for private schools and includes a parents’ bill of rights. Both have only passed in their chambers.
Students are also calling out House File 802, the law that prohibits so-called “divisive concepts” being taught in school, which passed last year.
“That’s why I did this walkout and that’s why all the central Iowa schools did the walkout, so that we can educate students about these bills and then hopefully they will start talking about these and bringing up conversations with their parents, who can potentially vote,” Zhao said.
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