It seems every time I open my phone or flip through the news, I see the people from the far-right continue to tout conspiracy theories about those brave #ParklandStudents.
Emma Gonzalez. Cameron Kasky. David Hogg. Delaney Tarr. Lex Michael. Adam Alhanti. By now we all know how those kids channeled their trauma and grief and ignited a storm no one, least of all the NRA, saw coming. And for the first time in an inexplicably long time, there is hope for meaningful policy change – and it has already begun in their home state of Florida.
So perhaps that is why the kids are being undermined for their age at every turn, because they cannot be faulted on their command of facts and knowledge of American history. These kids recognized the newscycle is fickle, they grew up with smartphones and they knew things!
Like, a lot of things.
If you have access to a quality high school education, you’re going to know your stuff, and the #ParklandStudents are proof. And other teenagers from Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida and around the country are smart and equally capable, you should underestimate them at your own peril.
It disgusts me there are people who actively believe and spread conspiracy theories that the Democrats are feeding them lies. How could he or she possibly know about the Great Recession? Or Citizens United? Or Aristotle?
Just this morning, I saw the following exchange on Twitter.
First of all, Lauren Hogg takes no one’s BS.
Second of all, is the education wherever Ken Walton lives in such a state of shambles that the only way someone could know this is if they were spoon-fed a line by Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi right before going on air?
I saw that tweet and wanted to reply to Ken. And I will, I’ll @ him the link to this blog.
I went to James Madison High School, a public school of over 4,000+ students in Brooklyn, New York and I had an excellent legal education.
I’ve got receipts, y’all.
My high school put a heavy premium on learning law. JMHS is the alma mater of that dazzling, spirited woman we all know as the Honorable Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And Senator Chuck Schumer. And Senator Bernie Sanders. (Bonus fact: Bernie and I were on the track team, decades apart).
In our high school, we learned about American judicial history each year to some extent, and in our junior and senior years we went through all of landmark cases. Anything I know about the Marshall court, judicial review, the Supreme Court’s reversal of its own decisions, etc, anything I know comes from my high school education. (I am more than a little chastened I have not burnished my knowledge much since).
Senior year was my favorite year, and it was probably because the Class of 2004 kicked serious butt in the legal realm. We dominated in the citywide Mock Trial, competitions, the national American history “We the People” competition.
That's me look nerdily straight ahead.
My favorite thing was Moot Court.
Our team consisted of myself, Giana Tortorella. Allyson Stein and Fania Veksler. Our case couldn’t have been better suited for me: a Harry Potter copyright infringement case. And because our coach, Mrs. Lerner, knew I was a Potterhead, she made me argue FOR THE COPYRIGHT INFRINGER. Anyway.
We had textbooks, bound books, handouts, lots of things probably recycled to younger students or discarded. I happened to be at my parents’ Brooklyn apartment this weekend and decided to go through my books and see what I might be able to find.
I found this – the thick collection of court decisions my team and I pored through to bolster our arguments and learn the law, what did or didn’t work as precedent, how to deftly defend our client or strongly prosecute (we were trained to argue both sides).
We were bright, dedicated and knew our stuff. And we won.
That little trophy is on my living room bookshelf.
I loved my high school friends, I remember those Moot Court days fondly. My parents heard me talking about Elmsvere v. NBC in my sleep. That’s how devoted we were.
These kids aren’t devoted to a national competition. They are dedicated to honoring their friends and classmates and the too many that have died. They are determined to be a part of a future where life is valued. And all they are armed with is a solid history and civics curriculum. And heart.
These teens, these remarkable teens, survived a devastating tragedy and I am dumbstruck by their resolve. They have buried friends and classmates and coaches, they have visited and prayed for survivors still in comas and recovery, they have gone to the state capitol, organized the #MarchForOurLives on 3/24, and made Florida – the NRA’s personal playground – take decisive action that a month ago would have been impossible to consider. Its jolted me out of my cynicism on gun control.
And again, all they are armed with is a solid history and civics curriculum.
It is impossible for me to think back on my high school experience without honoring one of the greatest women I have ever known, the aforementioned Mrs. Sonia "Sonny" Lerner. I call her my Jewish grandmother. She was what drove JMHS students to learn about American history, understand and honor the court system and know/fight for our rights. She had Brooklyn practicality, grit and the warmth that starts with a twinkle in the eye betraying her pride for us, no matter how smartass we were being. She knew her kids were smart, she bet a career on it. She passed away my first year of grad school, but listen, when I read about the high school teachers bringing their classes to DC for #MarchForOurLives, I know she'd have done the same thing.
My high school education prepared me for this. Bring it on, Ken Waltons/Russian bots of the world.
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