A teacher’s decision to allow students at Fairmont Elementary in El Cerrito to hold a protest during recess on Friday backfired, with students yelling “at any adults they encountered,” writing disparaging remarks on signs and “jumping on tables,” according to a letter to parents from the school’s principal.
A parent at the school anonymously sent the Richmond Standard a May 2 letter to parents by Principal Galen Murphy, posted in full below. The protest stemmed from concerns expressed by 5th and 6th grade students regarding the rules at recess time. Teachers attempted to foster the students’ desire to be heard and one agreed to allow the protest on the condition that it remain peaceful and that kids not be mean. The protest didn’t go as planned, Galen said.
“Students were yelling incoherently and running all over the schoolyard and using this idea of voicing one’s concerns as a time to yell at any adults they encountered and jumping on tables that are outside,” Galen wrote. “Some students wrote disparaging remarks about me on signs and others yelled at me and other adults/yard supervisors in the yard. In addition, other students were trying to take the state tests and were interrupted by the noise.”
The students said they wanted to hold the protest because they felt like they weren’t being heard. Since they had been studying teen activism in their Writing Workshop, it was seen by teachers as a potential teaching opportunity. After a teacher encouraged them to voice their concerns, students came to school on Friday with protest signs.
Prior to the protest, Galen said she and teachers had attempted and had struggled to have a focused classroom discussion about the students’ concerns. Still, one of the teachers later agreed to support the student protest, hoping for an educational experience.
Turned out the event was as much a teachable moment for teachers.
Galen said she intends to meet with representatives from each class to discuss their concerns and develop solutions.
The photo above is file art and was not used in the student protest
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