“They stepped over the line… It’s not a very good example to set for your kids.”
As one of the demonstrators who came to support the parents and students who have fought to save their schools, I am wondering what line we stepped over. I am quite certain that our action broke no law, and we were definitely acting under the protection of the First Amendment.
Throughout our state’s history, disenfranchised people have performed acts of civil disobedience in order to affect positive social and political change. In fact, Wichita, Kansas was actually home to the nation’s first sit-in.
(Note: The mic-check was not an example of civil disobedience because no law was broken.)
American citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression and no state law granting power to any school board shall supersede this inalienable right. The Wichita School Board Chairwoman, Betty Arnold, violated our First Amendment rights, hiding behind a state procedural law, which does grant her discretion over who can say what in a board meeting.
Arnold repeatedly abused this authority to stifle legitimate questions regarding the transparency of the process that preceded the board’s unanimous vote to close five Wichita schools. Furthermore, Arnold determined that the silent “twinkling” of fingers was also a form of expression that she had the power to infringe upon.
Based on the board’s utter disdain for our constitutional rights, coupled with Arnold’s admission that private meetings were held, and most offensively, a blatant disregard for the concerns of the parents of USD259, the parents were left with little choice but to make one last ditch effort to save their schools, and to stand up to a bully.
So, I ask Lynn Rogers, what “line did we cross” in exercising our First Amendment rights? How did we “set a [bad] example” for our children by openly confronting injustice in our community?
As an American citizen, I believe our elected officials should demonstrate the utmost respect for our Constitutionally-protected rights at all times. As one demonstrator asked: “What is this? Russia?” (he was told to be quiet or leave).