Larry Stafford, President of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats, is the latest to respond to allegations of administrators suppressing student dissent at Northwestern High School— This statement has been published unedited.
Prince George’s County Young Democrats, and I as President, stand in full support of freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble for all people, especially the students of Northwestern High School. I find the administration’s response disappointing, and we, the Young Democrats, condemn this action. Young people in this county have the right to voice their opinions and demand a redress of grievances. Yet, all too often their voices are ignored, or in this case, actively suppressed. I have personally experienced this in my days as a high school activist and it is sad to see it continue.
Many young people today are frustrated. This is often because they feel a sense of hopelessness and futility within a system that consistently fails to provide adequate access to something as fundamental as a quality education. Their sentiments may be, at times, manifested through nonconstructive means but this particular show of civil disobedience is well within their rights as students and citizens.
Instead of vilifying our student leaders, we should encourage them to remain engaged and invite them to address their concerns in a way that creates hope and power for change.
The administration’s response was counterproductive. If the goal is for student leaders to lead, the Administration must give them meaningful channels of communication and listen to their concerns.
We need change in Prince George’s County schools and more students willing to stand up to fight for that change.
PGCYD applauds their efforts.