Readers write: Activism in the classroom, the nation’s image

Letters to the editor for the Jan. 16, 2017 weekly magazine.

Melanie Stetson Freeman
High school and college students stage a walk out and rally against President-elect Trump on Boston Common on Dec. 5, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Activism in the classroom

Regarding the Dec. 6 article “Boston high-schoolers stage anti-Trump walkout. A lesson in democracy?” ( The walkouts taught students about democracy, and students’ concerns may be valid. But they also disrupted school. Generation Citizen (GC), a nonprofit that provides action-based civics education, has a solution. Why not make student activism part of school? By collaborating with teachers, rather than defying them, students learn which tactics are taken seriously. And more students lend their voices when it’s not a choice between participation or suspension.

Activism also belongs in schools because it advances academic outcomes. Action civics programs like GC build critical thinking skills, group collaboration abilities, and student efficacy. These walkouts demonstrate that action-based civics should be institutionalized. All Boston students should get a “lesson in democracy” as part of school, not in spite of it.

Gillian Pressman

Massachusetts executive director, Generation Citizen

The nation’s image

I’m writing about Dave Granlund’s cartoon from the Nov. 28 issue, which depicts a group of people applying “bonding cement” to the large, fragmented figure of the letters “USA.” That our country is fractured and in need of serious repair is certainly true. What I find troubling about this image is the way the citizens are depicted. The image includes 11 figures, nine of whom are male. The two women are in dresses and both appear to be doing surface cleaning, while the men do the hard work of structural repair. Only one of the 11 figures seems to be possibly (not certainly) a person of color. The image represents our country as white and patriarchal. That sort of old-fashioned, never-really-true vision of what the United States looks like is part of the reason that the country is currently so broken. As long as we continue to suggest that that is what the US is or should be, our country will never be able to begin to heal.

Dr. Gania Barlow

Ferndale, Mich.

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