Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 17
West Wendover high school teacher Kathy Durham
came up with 17 activities, one to commemorate
each of the lives lost in Parkland, Fla. The events
aren't mandatory for students; many take place out
of school and aren't endorsed by the district.
The activities include:
to the students of
to the post office
to send the letters.
Taking the pledge
to play a part
to find and address the
root of the problem of
violence against students,
teachers, and staff
members in school.
Participating in an
evening of civil discourse
to begin conversations
around the issue.
Interacting with youth
for opportunities to
improve and contribute
to the community.
Hosting a parent
to reconnect with parents
and other adults.
Engaging with city
and police officers to ask
for their ideas about how
to better serve and be
served by the community.
Recording the stories
by inviting them to share
their memories and asking
them what they would
like students to learn and
know about what serving
their country meant
Making a living tribute
to senior citizens
by recording their
stories of youth and asking
about the difficulties of
growing up during their
Serving as mentors
to younger students
by planning a day of
connecting with them.
Listening to the
voices of students
during a dramatic reading
performed by our
at the school.
in a day of community
and academic studies
by participating in a
schoolwide homework night.
Moving to a more
physically active day
by putting aside phones
and internet and engaging
in physical play and
with a prohibitive condition after already owning a gun? Should depression be enough to
prevent someone from being able to purchase
one? Should officials check on gun owners'
mental state every six months? Every year?
Are social-media postings evidence of one's
Durham pipes in, noting that courts reviewing the law would also want to know whether
such a proposal respected a person's due process
rights-and how it would accord with federal
"If you're going to put in a background check
for mental health," she presses the students,
"what is my right to defend myself on that? Can
I appeal it?"
For a week in preparation for this exercise,
Durham's seniors have been parsing the Second
Amendment's convoluted phrasing, examining
the evolution of federal laws, and reading about
judicial precedents, including the District of
Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court
decision that recognizes an individual right to
gun ownership unconnected with belonging to
The preparation shows. At least one student
references the United States' historical prohibitions on enslaved people and Native Americans,
among others, to possess firearms.
But like many teachers, Durham had to put
these resources together from scratch, cobbling
together sections of Nevada code with different
interpretations of the Second Amendment from
such sites as the Bill of Rights Institute.
Indeed, for such a crucial topic, educational
publishers seem reluctant to engage in this
most sensitive of topics. The textbook in Durham's class references the Second Amendment
apologetically as one of the most controversial
in the Constitution and fails to suggest any activities so students can analyze why that is. The
textbooks sit in the corner of the class, unused,
for today's lesson.
Durham notes that the online lesson plans,
while helpful, often don't require enough depth
of thinking from students.
"I think they're too easy, and it's so they can
give an answer key. But I don't want an answer
key. I want, 'Responses will vary,' " she said.
There is also a key difference between the
discussions she's facilitated here and what a
"pure" pro-con classroom debate on the Second
Amendment might look like. And that is this: By
the week's end, Durham will require each table
of students to blend their differing ideas and to
compromise on a single proposal.
They may have to do so grudgingly, but as Durham likes to remind students, sometimes that's
what happens as a result of the fundamental
democratic principle of compromise: "majority
rule, minority rights."
Petitioning for a
such as acting to help
end violence in schools.
Durham's second period of seniors is up now.
This time the discussion is even livelier, and
students are less willing to accede to their
classmates' proposals. They are pushing back
A difference of opinion breaks out between
Raul Ruiz Soriano and the girl with the
hunting background. He's advanced a provocative idea: no rifles for anyone under 21,
"Some families rely on hunting," she protests.
"It's not like 12-year-olds go out hunting all by
"Our self-defense, our protection, is more important than your hunting," Soriano replies.
Durham interjects, again in her role as a devil's
advocate: "Does that mean we end the manufac-
Gathering for a night
of unity to reflect,
and celebrate previous
acts of engagement.
Walking out in reverence
and in silence
for all the work done and
yet to be done to put an
end to school violence.
ture of these guns? And what about the military?"
The students go back and forth. Soriano concedes that the military provides high-quality
training on the use of firearms, and the students decide that military and hunting are acceptable exceptions to his proposal.
Later, student Dylan Wirth pushes back on
expanded mental-health background checks.
He wants a much more narrowly tailored law;
many of his fellow students' proposals are too
"extremist," he argues.
"How does this not infringe on the 14th
Amendment?" Wirth asks, noting that the right
to privacy enshrined in that amendment's due
process clause could conflict with a bill that
would make ownership contingent on access to
Well, people who want a gun will have to
waive that privacy in order to buy a gun, his
"Then how are you not breaking the Second
Amendment?" he protests. "You're breaking the
law by making a new law?"
"So, this is my right to privacy versus another person's right to feel safe," Durham summarizes the point of disagreement.
Later, she will confide that these were her
two favorite moments in the lesson, because
the students were grappling with the insight
that constitutional rights are interlocking and
exist in relation to one another. The right to
bear arms becomes difficult to regulate without
bumping against rights in other amendments.
It requires balancing collective and individual
rights. And it shows why questions of constitutionality are so difficult-and so contested.
"They're starting to see that it's more complicated than passing a law," Durham said of
Durham and her students will spend the next
class periods wrapping up the debate and starting to draft letters to lawmakers based on what
they've agreed on in their groups.
It's a lesson that she thinks has much more
staying power than the lesson plans she's used
in the past, particularly because students are
grappling with the Second Amendment alongside other rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Before, she said, she used to teach the amendments one by one, devising hand signals and rap
lyrics to help students remember them. Students
promptly forgot them after the exam anyway.
"But I know they are not just going to remember this lesson-they are going to remember how to apply the learning," she said.
And yet she remains concerned by one factor that was apparent over the course of the
day: For many students here, Parkland already
seems like something that happened a long
time ago. Arming teachers, President Donald
Trump's major policy solution, came up only
once during the debate.
"We were all shocked," said Sharp, the student to propose a tiered training plan, when
asked about Parkland.
Then he thinks for a beat: "But for some students, it's kind of one of those things where
they think it won't happen to them."
Durham hopes the focus in her lesson today
on civil discourse will stick with students. She
also wonders whether, outside the classroom,
the larger debates on guns and on the Second
Amendment miss the point somewhat.
"We're talking a lot about the guns and restrictions and prevention," she said. "That's
important. But we're not talking about what's
causing the violence."
Visit the CURRICULUM MATTERS blog, which
tracks news and trends on this issue.
EDUCATION WEEK | March 21, 2018 | www.edweek.org | 17
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 21, 2018
Education Week - March 21, 2018
A Teachable Moment For 2nd Amendment
Student Walkout Taps Well of Anger, Sadness
Sick of Low Pay, More Teachers Prepare to Fight
News in Brief
N.D. Districts Can Substitute ACT For State Test
Study: Don’t Use ACT, SAT to Gauge School Achievement
Spreading Social-Emotional Learning Across All Schools
Educators and Finance Officers Team Up for Better Budgeting
Schools Struggle to Use Data To Get Better
Upcoming March Could Draw On Walkout’s Momentum
Walkout Takes Aim at Gun Violence
FACT SHEET: Students With Emotional Disabilities
Response to Shooting Begins to Take Shape
lorida Extends Private-School Vouchers to Bullied Students
Surprise W.Va. Teachers Strike Emboldens Activists Elsewhere
DeVos Still Challenged In Delivering Message
Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights
MARY BETH TINKER: I Stand With the Students
FRANK LOMONTE: Student Privacy Laws Should Protect Students, Not School Officials
KIRSTEN BAESLER: Yes, Betsy DeVos, Our Schools Are Innovating
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
LAWRENCE BAINES & JIM MACHELL: The War on Teachers Comes to Oklahoma
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Sick of Low Pay, More Teachers Prepare to Fight
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 2
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Contents
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - News in Brief
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Report Roundup
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - N.D. Districts Can Substitute ACT For State Test
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Study: Don’t Use ACT, SAT to Gauge School Achievement
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Spreading Social-Emotional Learning Across All Schools
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 9
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Schools Struggle to Use Data To Get Better
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 11
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Upcoming March Could Draw On Walkout’s Momentum
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Walkout Takes Aim at Gun Violence
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - FACT SHEET: Students With Emotional Disabilities
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 15
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 16
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 17
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - lorida Extends Private-School Vouchers to Bullied Students
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Surprise W.Va. Teachers Strike Emboldens Activists Elsewhere
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 21
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - FRANK LOMONTE: Student Privacy Laws Should Protect Students, Not School Officials
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - KIRSTEN BAESLER: Yes, Betsy DeVos, Our Schools Are Innovating
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Letters
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 25
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 27
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - LAWRENCE BAINES & JIM MACHELL: The War on Teachers Comes to Oklahoma
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW1
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW2
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW3
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW4