What Kids Are Really Learning In School

On November 2nd, 2005, kids across the nation joined protests organized by The World Can’t Wait, which called for walk-outs to support the demand for an end to the Bush Regime.

One of those who answered the call was a 10th grader named Geovany Serrano.  A student at L.A.’s Belmont High, Geovany passed out fliers, and tried to organize his fellow students to support the walkout. When administrators learned of the plan, they launched an attack on the youth, grabbing him, blasting him with pepper spray, and arresting him! He was hauled into the infamous Rampart Division police station, taken to Juvenile Hall and fingerprinted.

This 10th grader is now under house arrest, and has been forced to wear an ankle bracelet, simply for trying to organize his fellow students in opposition to the Bush Regime. Guess what *this* kid has learned about ‘constitutional rights’ of free speech, free association, and the rights to assemble and protest?

Despite these events, Geovany *has* learned some important lessons, ones which never would’ve fit a classroom. He wrote recently: “Look at the war in Iraq. There are jails where there are people that the government just wants to disappear. They have them there and are torturing them and putting them on leashes. They’re bombing the sh– out of people’s houses….. When I first got into this it hit me so hard. It’s hard to go back to living a regular day, knowing that there are people that are being killed and victimized by the system is so difficult. Is that the world I want? No, I don’t want none of that.” [From: pressworldcantwait_la@yahoo.com]

At Granada Hills High, another student was hauled into the Dean’s office for wearing a World Can’t Wait sticker on his t-shirt. When the Dean told him to remove his t-shirt because school wasn’t the place for voicing political beliefs, the student replied, “If you want me to take off the sticker, then I have to take everything off as well.” He promptly stripped to his skivvies, and told the Dean: “You can take my clothes and my sticker, but! — You can’t take what I believe in my heart.”

What teacher wouldn’t give her right arm to have students so committed and involved in the world around them? To dare to care more about the world they’ll inhabit, than what they’ll wear to the prom?

At L.A.’s Reseda High, student leader Sara Escuerdo was slapped with a 2-day suspension for organizing a walk-out, and threatened with arrest for possession of We Can’t Wait stickers! She was threatened with transfer until hundreds of outraged parents and teachers deluged the principal’s office with calls of protest. Escuerdo wrote on http://www.worldcantwait.com : “We owe it to the millions of people that are getting tortured, getting murdered, and suffering around the world to do this. Resist or Die — It has come down to that slogan…. Right now, the future is in everybody’s hands. It is up to us. The question is what kind of world do you want to live in? Will you accept everything this regime stands for? If you don’t, then you must join this movement.”

The great behavioral psychologist, Carl Rogers once said, the function of school is to provide “learning to be free.”

What do you think these kids are learning from administrators, from cops, from adults? How to be free? Or how to obey?

The writer, Derrick Jensen, in his book *Walking on Water: Reading, Writing & Revolution* (White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green Publ., 2004), wrote what he learned as a young student: “I learned to not talk out of order, and not to question authority — not openly, at least — for fear of losing recess time, or later of losing grade points. I learned to not ask difficult questions of overburdened or impatient teachers and certainly not to expect thoughtful answers. I learned to mimic the opinions of teachers, and on command to vomit facts and interpretations of those facts gleaned from the textbooks, whether I agreed with the facts and or interpretations or not. I learned how to read authority figures, give them what they wanted, to fawn and brownnose when expedient. In short, I learned to give myself away.”

Is this what we want our students to do? To learn how to kneel, ‘brownnose’, obey — or to be free?

These brave and compassionate kids, high-schoolers, many of whom will be called upon quite soon to join the imperial army to fight for presidents, princes, and oil barons, are also doing some serious ‘teaching.’ They are teaching us all about freedom, the truest freedom — to resist!

It is a valuable lesson that millions of kids (and older folks) should learn well, before it is too late.

[Check out Mumia’s latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.

The Power of Truth is Final — Free Mumia!

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