John Gunn, the father of a 12-year-old, went to his son’s school to register his objection to his son’s class being allowed to participate in the National Walk-out to Protest Gun Laws That Had Nothing To Do With the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Parkland, Florida. He videoed the exchange with principal Barbara Boggio, and posted the confrontation on the Ventura Unified School District Facebook page.
Gunn (great name, by the way!): “I want to know who authorized these kids to go out and leave the class when I wasn’t even notified about it.”
Boggio: “As our school planned for who and what, we anticipated something…”
Gunn: “6th graders? 6th graders? When do 6th graders make decisions?…When do 12-year-olds make decisions? You’re an adult, you’re the school, you’re supposed to teach my child. You don’t influence my child in any which way. Democrat, liberal, Republican, whatever it is. I want it out of the school system. So why did my son have to sit in that class — because he didn’t leave — but why wasn’t I notified?”
Boggio: “If the student chose to leave, that’s their choice.”
Gunn: “What do you mean that’s their choice? They’re 6th graders!…If this wasn’t a protest and this wasn’t happening, you would let the kid leave?”
Boggio: “I would make sure they were safe.” [Translation: “homina homina homina…”]
Gunn: “If this was not a protest yesterday across the country about gun control or whatever it is, you would have let the kids just leave?”
Boggio: “We would make sure they are safe, that’s our job.”
Gunn: “I want to know who let them go. I’m going to sue the school district. I already have a lawyer. I wasn’t notified that you were going to allow this. This is from my son, who doesn’t lie, ‘if you want to leave, you can leave.’ You told the teachers ‘if you want to go, you can go.’ Somebody told them that.”
Boggio: “I would never make a teacher ever shut the door and keep a student inside the classroom.” [ Straw man, lie, deflection..]
Gunn: You’re telling me a 12-year-old can just walk out of the class? Why can’t you just say, ‘No you can’t go.’ They’re 12-year-olds.”
In other districts around the country, students are organizing walk-outs to protest on other issues, like against abortion. Again, GOOD. Make the schools deal with their abuse of authority and politicizing education. I want to hear the arguments in court about how teachers and principles can pick and choose what kind of political speech is encouraged among students.
19 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: John Gunn”
As a former educator (teacher) this reminds me of the old saying: The teachers are afraid of the principal. The principal is afraid of the superintendent. The superintendent is afraid of the school board. The school board is afraid of the parents. The parents are afraid of the children. Well played, Mr. Gunn, well played!
“I want to hear the arguments in court about how teachers and principals can pick and choose what kind of political speech is encouraged among students.”
So John Gunn hasn’t been arrested for sending a Gunn to school?
You laugh, but it isn’t that farfetched.
This is what is missing from public education these days: the public.
Parents need to take an interest in what happens where their kids spend the majority of their waking hours. Kids are not cute decorations for Christmas cards. They are a responsibility. Act like it.
Coming from an extended family of teachers (and married into the same) I could tell stories that would curl your hair.
Parental apathy is criminal. And the rich ones are worse than the less well off.
There are times when I’m say… watching a TV show or movie, and the response from someone is so… Just utterly contrived and fake, it’s infuriating. There’s this little head in the back of my voice, “Here’s what I would have done.” or “A person in this situation should have said this.”
It’s refreshing when a response is perfect… I’m watching Riverdale on Netflix right now, and one of the sub stories is that one of the students is having an affair with his teacher, and there’s this scene after his best friend finds out. The student says to his friend; “you can’t tell anyone about this, if you do I’ll….” and the friend interrupts, “You’ll do what, exactly? What do you think you can do?” and I’m like: Yes! That’s the right answer! It’s almost uplifting.
This guy gives a lot of right answers, and I recommend watching the whole nine minutes of it. The one problem I had was that he didn’t push her when she gave her: “I would make sure they’re safe” answers. I mean… Not only is it a non answer, it’s not true. “I’d make sure they were safe”? I mean…. Did she? Did she track where her students went? Report the mass walkout to the police? Called the parents? No, she sat by and let the inmates run the prison. Like… Thank God I haven’t heard any stories along these lines, but could you imagine the liability if a student had been struck by a car? This guy’s kid was 12, but I’ve seen stories where 5 year old kindergarten students were paraded outside class without parental permission… What if a six or seven year old got shellacked?
“I’d make sure they were safe”, my ass, I mean… If the PRIMARY concern is actually safety, she would have locked them in their classrooms, failing that, she could have tried to dissuade them, failing that, she could have called police of parents, failing that she could have at the very least set out teachers as God Damned crossing guards or something. Literally nothing she did was in the best interests of student safety. That is a lie.
This was one more story in which I was glad we homeschooled my son. I would have been in a fight with teachers and administrators every week. My parent friends just get tired, and shrug off so much that it’s horrifying to me.
Where are you getting the idea that the students were not monitored and supervised during the walkout? The kids at my school were.
Because I’m giving the faculty the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think you realize the ramifications of the walkout being supervised… If the faculty supervised kids during the walkout, my criticism becomes much more focused and angry, because supervision implies endorsement.
No, it doesn’t. It didn’t at my school. Teachers stayed in their rooms with the students who didn’t want to miss class; admin, security and extra PD assistance monitored the students on the walkout. We were explicitly told not to encourage the walkout, and to simply go about business as usual in our classrooms until the participating students arrived. Every single one of my students was in their seats by the time the walkout was over, and class went on as usual.
And as per the previous discussion, anywhere lacking consequences for the walk-out tacitly endorsed the walk-out.
So…. Let’s say that one of your students were peeing in the corner of your classroom, to use an extreme example. In that case, even if you didn’t specifically encourage the behavior, can you really not see how a lack of corrective action… Anything from a “Hey! Stop that!” to a detention slip, to a parental call… Could be seen as at the very least enabling the behavior? When you fail to correct bad behavior, especially when it is specifically your job to correct, is seen as condoning the behavior you are failing to correct.
Now… two important caveats here:
First off, when I use “you” in that context, it’s probably not you, Chris, specifically. I mean…. It would be nice for educators to take a principled stand against the usage of kids as political props, or for the integrity of their profession, but the fact of the matter is that this order came from your management, and the buck ultimately needs to stop at them.
Second… This really hinges on whether or not you think this is behavior that needs correction. Right? Look, if the kid is pissing in your classroom, that’s obviously behavior that needs to be adjusted. That’s obviously on the same side of the spectrum, if not in the identical place as fighting, swearing or cutting class, right?
Or is it? Is cutting class behavior that should be corrected, or isn’t it? Because… See… Despite how desperately you want to say “This is different” because it has political connotations, the fact is that it isn’t. There is no “I feel strongly about an issue” veto to normal school policy. Functionally, the kids skipped school while their peers learned. And instead of taking any measures to stopping them, from telling them no, to merely holding them to the normal standard for a kid leaving class without approval, you sat by and watched.
Because you condoned it.
There’s no other explanation.
Did you not notice how you moved the goalposts from endorsement to condonement?
When you don’t have an argument; get hung up on semantics… Right?
Condoning has more negative connotations, you condone something you know is wrong, where you endorse something you know is right, but as the most basic level, the word describes the same base action: demonstrating support for something. Because your actions fell outside your normal set of responses for the base act… Unless you want to tell me that your normal response to kids walking out of your class is to ignore them…. Then you, perhaps as a proxy of your management, showed support for the act of walking out of class.
You decide whether you think that skipping class is a good thing, or a bad thing, and from that decision, I’ll let you decide whether “condone” or “endorse” was a better word choice. Following that… feel free, feel encouraged, to ad lib every time I used the ‘wrong’ word with the ‘right’ one and then respond to the actual point I made.
It isn’t semantics. The two words mean different things and imply different arguments. “Condone” does not mean “endorse,” it means tolerate. Supervision of the students walking out did not imply endorsement of the walkout, as you said earlier; it implies that we tolerated the walkout. There are many reasons to tolerate an action that don’t involve direct support of that action. As I’ve pointed out numerous times, to punish the students walking out would be a larger disruption than tolerating it. To not supervise them during the walkout would run the risk of students being harmed or leaving the school for the whole day. My school’s response was the best one in light of those facts.
“As I’ve pointed out numerous times, to punish the students walking out would be a larger disruption than tolerating it.”
What’s your point?
No really… All forms of punishment are by their nature, by intention, disruptive. The idea that schools can or will completely abdicate responsibility because it would be… you know… hard to be responsible… I can’t believe that’s the argument you’re making, so please set me straight. But regardless of whether you intended it to mean that, that’s how it came off, and my god but it sends the wrong message, it’s actually probably illegal (because I’m SURE that there are laws on the books requiring schools notify parents of truancy in at least some districts, even if not yours), and it completely flies in the face of history. We’re talking about a profession that routinely and brutally enforces nonsensical no-tolerance policies, that has expelled a student because he chewed a Pop Tart into the approximate shape of a gun, I’m finding it REALLY hard to believe that educators are willing or able to factor disruption into the calculus of their relative level of support here.
They weren’t truant. Students were not allowed to leave campus; that’s what the supervision was for.
The idea that schools can or will completely abdicate responsibility because
Now you’re just blatantly misrepresenting things. The school did not “completely abdicate responsibility”—again, there was supervision.
Chris… School isn’t a 13 year daycare program. School doesn’t consist of recess on demand. Your job is to educate young minds and ideally help prepare them for life as an adult.
And this pretension that supervising kids as they break the rules somehow mitigated the absolute breakdown in responsibility is laughable. Would you stand by and supervise the kid pissing in your classroom? Ignore the kids wearing the pro-gun t-shirts huddled around a Playboy magazine? Where is the line between the point where you have a responsibility to do your job and the point where you think you have a responsibility to emulate a bump on a log?