Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Students at 34 Miami Schools Walk Out of Class for Trayvon Martin

Alan Diaz / AP

Students walked out of 34 Miami middle and high schools on Thursday and Friday, some chanting “Justice for Trayvon,” in a sign of solidarity with the 17-year-old black student who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer last month in Sanford, Fla.

Protesters numbered more than 1,000 at some schools, others fewer than 100. Some teachers and principals gave their tacit approval.

Listen to why students are, and aren’t, walking out of class here on NPR.

The first walkout was at Carol City High School, where Trayvon Martin was a student last year. Hundreds of his old schoolmates walked out in the middle of the school day.

Nearly a month has passed since George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon, who was unarmed. But it wasn’t until this week that Trayvon’s high school said anything about his death to his fellow students.

That got Miami students talking and organizing.

Alana Coreus, a 12th-grader, says students aren’t worried about getting punished for walking out of class. 

“Everyone feels like what they’re doing is right,” she says, “because everyone is walking around with their Skittles, their hoodies, and they feel like they’re making a stand.”

At the time of his death, Trayvon was carrying a bag of Skittles and wore the hood of his jacket over his head.

Will Students Be Disciplined for Walking-Out?

Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho says each school will have to decide for itself whether to discipline students.

“Everyone is walking around with their Skittles, their hoodies, and they feel like they’re making a stand.”

-Alana Coreus, senior at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High

“I think we have demonstrated passion and compassion, understanding,” he says. “We don’t decree discipline from downtown.”

The superintendent also says Trayvon’s parent urged students to stay in class. Trayvon’s former classmates, like senior Mercury Duncan, are honoring that request.

“Walking out is not really doing anything, it’s not going to bring him back, not making his mom feel any way because she asked us not to walk out,” he says, “and what we’re doing, it could kind of comfort her.”

Students at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High are writing letters to Trayvon and his family, creating what they call a “chain of life” around the school campus.

According to the school district, Trayvon’s death was not initially announced to his classmates because his parents asked for privacy. Internal school emails show the principal asked teachers to refrain from lengthy conversations about Trayvon.

 Ashley Aristide says her teacher avoided the subject when it came up in history class.

“I am pretty sure the school just really doesn’t want to have that much commotion in the school because then learning in that environment would be pretty hard,” she says.

Eventually, the school decided to do something. The principal called for a moment of silence more than three weeks after Trayvon’s death.

Frustrated by the delay, some students took to social media and began organizing the walkouts.

Their online activism continues. On Monday, Trayvon’s former classmates are planning to dress in black to mark the month that has passed since his death.

You can see the list of every Miami school who participated in the walk-outs here.

Comments

  • Stephen Cee Em

    That’s messed up that the school didn’t acknowledge Trayvon’s death. Just pretend it didn’t happen? I guess we can only ignore the racism under the rug for so long.

  • thewolfkin

    I genuinely try not to be cynical sometimes. I often ask myself “What if they’re right” which is why unlike most people I can actually understand if Zimmerman actually is innocent. I can see that (I don’t think that’s what happened but I can see why someone else would)… and as someone who sees that I STILL think he should have been arrested and then investigated.. not the other way around.

    Here again I’m trying to understand the mindset of the school that has one of their students die in a very public, violent manner and yet doesn’t want to acknowledge it. I can understand maybe the first week we want to give the family some time to accept what’s happened, maybe let the law find out the truth.. but 2 weeks later? I mean you can’t do something like at least have an announcement just saying “We lost one of our students let us keep him in our thoughts today” or something simple. I get that you don’t want the classes to be disrupted with unproductive sidetalk, but 3 weeks and the school does nothing.. that’s what causes distracting discussions.

    P.S. Completely aside Sarah Gonzalez is very pretty. Makes me wish I was back in Fla.

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