Rantz: SeaTac teacher to host 5th graders on a protest march for social justice causes

Jun 13, 2024, 5:55 PM

Photo: Bow Lake Elementary...

Bow Lake Elementary (Photo courtesy the Bow Lake Elementary Facebook page)

(Photo courtesy the Bow Lake Elementary Facebook page)

A teacher in the Highline School District announced a Friday afternoon social justice student protest with the school’s 5th grade students. Parents were not asked for consent to have their children participate in this political protest.

The teacher is based at Bow Lake Elementary School in SeaTac. “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH is not naming the teacher because she didn’t appear to violate any policy.

She sent an email to staff this week to ask if they’d be interested in having their students join her “March for Justice” from 12:15-12:45 p.m. The 5th grade teacher said the students will chant, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” The protest route is planned to march by the 3rd and 4th grade classes, then to the 2nd grade classes, down the hall to kindergarten and 1st grade classes. They will then snake down the halls to the front of the school, according to the email obtained by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. She signed the email, “In solidarity.”

The 30-minute long, school-wide event comes after lesson plans around activism over the last several months.

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Is this social justice march assigned by a teacher appropriate for 10 and 11-year-olds?

According to her email, the teacher said her students “chose an activist issue to research and wrote an opinion essay on.”

“Students have learned about issues including LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, immigration, climate change and gun control,” the teacher wrote of her 10 and 11-year-old students.

The district provided “The Jason Rantz Show” with some of the source material used for the lessons.

While there was nothing especially outrageous or age-inappropriate on the topics of illegal immigration, women’s rights, and even Black Lives Matter (though this content was a complete misrepresenting of the movement), the content was all framed through a progressive ideological lens. (The messages on climate change, LGBT rights and gun control were inaccessible without a username and password but the district, via a spokesperson, said in these instances equal weight was offered to both sides of issues).

There was no parental consent for the political protest

A district spokesperson said this lesson is aligned with state standards. The intent, the spokesperson said, “is to help students learn that protest is a fundamental American right and a way to have a voice in a democracy, starting with the founding of our nation.” And since it’s deemed a basic lesson plan that doesn’t violate policy, parents weren’t notified of the march.

“Families were not notified about this particular activity. It is our recommendation that teachers communicate regularly with families about the learning their children are experiencing, though there is not an expectation that they share every lesson in detail,” the spokesperson told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. “However, we recognize that we need to raise awareness about lessons that some families may have questions about. We will be addressing that in a training with principals before the start of the next school year.”

Having students march around campus as part of a political protest, no matter the topic, is something a teacher should recognize as controversial. Parents should have been looped in.

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Here’s why any teacher taking kids on a social justice march is a problem

I have no doubt that the district, school administration and teacher may think this is appropriate and harmless. But having kids this young be part of a political protest is profoundly inappropriate.

Schools are meant to be neutral grounds focused on education, not political battlegrounds. When educators endorse participation in protests, they risk indoctrinating rather than educating. It infringes on parental rights, imposing specific viewpoints on impressionable minds without consent.

It strains credulity to believe the teacher’s own viewpoints didn’t influence the classroom discussion. I have a hard time believing the lessons truly gave both sides equal weight when brought up as a discussion. When a “March for Justice” includes a chant championed by progressive activist groups, it’s not very subtle which ideological lens the students are being taught through.

Encouraging civic engagement is crucial, but it should be done in a balanced, informative manner, allowing students to form their own opinions. There’s little reason for parents to trust most local school districts to provide objective conversations on political issues, especially on complex topics for 5th graders, like gun control and LGBT rights. This is a district that has fully embraced Critical Race Theory and staff bring that activism into the classroom.

Any teacher leading kids on a social justice march is the type of lesson that threatens the more noble goal of teaching students how to form opinions, rather than having the opinions formed for them.

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Rantz: SeaTac teacher to host 5th graders on a protest march for social justice causes