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Student walkout for gun law reforms a ‘teachable moment,’ de Blasio says

Special lesson plans are being developed for the city’s schools leading up to the March 14 demonstration.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, shown at City Hall

Mayor Bill de Blasio, shown at City Hall in Manhattan on Feb. 1, 2018, said that special lesson plans will be developed in advance of students' planned walkout for gun law reform on March 14. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Special lesson plans are being developed for the public schools to complement next month’s planned student walkout over the nation’s gun laws, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.

The mayor, who said that if he were a student he’d participate in the March 14 protest to memorialize the 17 people killed February 14 in Parkland, Florida, promised that the curriculum would be apolitical.

“I certainly wouldn’t want any individual’s viewpoint leading the discussion — my own included,” de Blasio said on his weekly WNYC radio call-in. “But I think it is an important moment for young people to debate and to reflect and to think about the world.”

The walkout, planned for 17 minutes beginning at 10 a.m. March 14, comes in response to the killing of 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a heavily armed former student.

“We’re gonna do lesson plans around this issue leading up to that day. We’re gonna make sure that there’s a real educational impact,” de Blasio said.

Mayoral spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said Friday afternoon that the special curriculum would center on how students can get involved in civics and discuss current events like the shooting.

De Blasio’s administration has also ordered all 1,800 schools to hold drills by March 15 on how to lock down buildings in case an “active shooter” is on the loose.

The mayor said on Thursday that he has “respect” for the walkout plans. His Department of Education said that no student would be punished for participating.

The school system will allow elementary- and middle-school students to participate in the protest “within the context of the building,” instead of going outside.

“This is a teachable moment,” de Blasio said, “on top of the moment for potentially profound social change.”

Districts around the country have taken different approaches to the March 14 protest, including at least one that has threatened to suspend anyone who participates.

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