So in a nutshell, a student, Pat Brown, creates a hashtag, #s**tCNSshouldcut, because he is upset at the budget cuts his school is facing. His hashtag encourages other students to start listing things that should be cut from the school budget. Students provide some meaningful, some comical, responses like holding classes outside to cut air conditioning costs, and reducing sports like cheerleading.
Then Brown recommends cutting the principal because she doesn’t do a good job.
And he gets suspended. Three days of it. Because apparently his tweet crossed the line and harassed the principal. And for good measure, they also suspended him for using a phone in class and disrupting the learning environment.
This is amazing – students are coming together to tackle a real-world problem, something that actually impacts their lives and their future, and instead of seeing it for what it is, and guiding the conversation into a positive, meaningful dialogue, the student is suspended. That’s an atrocity on the part of the district and site administration.
Had the principal never been brought in to the list of cuts, I can almost guarantee that nothing would have been done or said about the hashtag. Let’s call it what it is – public officials afraid of being chastised, and instead attack the messenger. It reminds me of teachers who reflect on student surveys and dismiss the negative ones as a “problem of the child” and not of the teacher.
Like Jeff Bliss who unleashed a verbal rant on his English teacher, Pat Brown was speaking up, demanding a better education for himself and his peers. And instead of getting a better education, he instead got an education in how democracy and freedom of voice has no place in public education.
- #FreePatBrown: Suspended Cicero-North Syracuse student tests the boundaries of free speech (syracuse.com)
- N.Y. student suspended after controversial Twitter hashtag (cnn.com)
- Positive Spaces for Engaging Young People’s Voice. (coopcatalyst.wordpress.com)