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letters | Crash course in global relations

Schools promote activism, but not when it’s radical and (gasp) embarrassing

In response to “Unwelcome words on democracy” (Page A1, June 6) and “Re-education at Newton North” (Editorial): As a graduate of Newton North High School, like Henry DeGroot, I had many teachers and adults throughout my school career who influenced the activist I am today. They awakened my consciousness of racial, class, and gender privilege, and encouraged me to fight for social justice.

What happened to DeGroot is indicative of a trend true for Newton as well as many institutions of secondary and higher education that pride themselves on being liberal, inclusive, and progressive. That trend is one of applauding “kids who want to be politically active,” as Superintendent David Fleishman says, but only when they are doing so in a way that’s not too radical or embarrassing.

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Newton North’s response sends a message that activism and political involvement are things to put on a resume. This leads to a lack of real commitment to social justice. Our society still has work to do in terms of eradicating oppression, and to do that, young people have to be encouraged to act and think radically.

DeGroot could have been more thoughtful in the way he acted, but his passion is rare in young people today, and it should be encouraged and fostered with care by educators and mentors in his life.

Rosemary McInnes


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