Monday, November 17, 2014

Mary Beth Tinker's Letter of Support

Editor's note: Mary Beth Tinker, from the famous Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines that set the national precedence of students' First Amendment Rights, sent us a letter of support.

"I've been following and cheering the students of Fairview High School who are opting out of CMAS testing.  As a fan of students who put civics into action, it's heartening to see the students doing just that. 

When I was a thirteen, in 1965, I wanted to put civics into action, too, by wearing a black armband to school to mourn the dead in Vietnam. Administrators didn't like that, and I was suspended.  But if democracy means anything, it means that the people who are affected by decisions should have a say in the decisions. When the case went to the Supreme Court, we won by 7-2 in 1969.

As the students in Fairview articulate so well in their video, they did not have input into the house bill which requires the test. Instead, they were expected to passively sit by while the decision was made by legislators and for-profit testing companies.  With impressive investigative skill and critical thinking, the students decided that their time and resources could be better spent. And they went on to expose the fact that $36 million was being spent on the testing while funding for their schools has been cut by 6% since 2008.
The Fairview students are not alone. They are part of the growing voice of students, like those in Pennsylvania dressed up as rats and guinea pigs to testifying at hearings, saying, "We're not guinea pigs!"   And, there are many other students with the same feelings.

So, bravo to students who take their civics lessons to heart and put democracy into action! By standing up for themselves, they are standing up their democratic rights and for their education!

Thank you, Mary Beth Tinker"

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