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Yorktown Signs

Source: Fox News

 

 Signs put up by school administrators have caused a stir at Yorktown High School. Following a rise in hateful incidents at the school, school administrators claimed they designed the signs to promote equality and diversity in an increasingly divided school environment. The debate over these signs has been so contentious that a Yorktown senior discussed them with Fox News. They were also heavily discussed not only at a student-led forum at Yorktown High School, but also the February APS school board meeting (watch the board meeting here). 

 

I am glad that I attended the student forum at Yorktown. Many viewpoints were expressed, and I was able to gain more perspective on both sides of the argument over the signs. We also discussed how to address the tense climate at Yorktown. People addressed others in a respectful manner, and it geniunely felt like a conversation rather than a debate for the most part. Not surprisingly, the conversation became more intense when the signs were discussed.

 It appears that the argument against the signs is as follows:

- Schools should be apolitical; it is inappropriate for teachers and administrators to put these signs up.

-  Some students had problems with the wording of the signs; specifically, the phrase "We are all immigrants". They stated that this is inaccurate because Native Americans and African Americans who are descendants of slaves are not immigrants. 

- The signs imply that conservatives do not support and/or agree with the statements made, and students believed most of their fellow conservatives did, in fact, agree with the majority of the statements made.

 

The argument for the signs is:

- Students did not believe that the signs were political. The intention was not to attack conservatives. The statements were each in response to occurrences that teachers felt were necessary to address.

- These signs are compliant with APS policy; teachers are not endorsing a political candidate or party - they are simply exercising their first amendment rights.

- It is more important than ever to remind others to be respectful given the recent incidents that include people calling others racial slurs, tweeting "Latinas Leaving Tomorrow" in reference to Yorktown's club "Latinas Leading Tomorrow", and joking about "gassing the Jews", for example. Many students do not feel safe at Yorktown, and the signs are a show of solidarity with them.

 

 Regardless of whether one is in favor of or against the signs, it is important they went up because of their effect: opening up a dialogue for all parties to express how they felt about the recent atmosphere at Yorktown. During the student forum, some mentioned that the administration is not doing enough to address increased divisiveness. However, it is ultimately up to the students to treat each other with respect. The fact that many students attended the forum, and parents and students showed up - and spoke at - the board meeting is a great first step. This is evidence that students are now engaging in respectful discussions to present their views, and showing interest in creating tangible change in their community.

 

Posted: Feb 18, 2017 by Elizabeth Kraisinger

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