I’ve found a valuable and healthy way to start each new day, I’m listening to the VERY INSPIRING song, “Do you hear the people sing?” from Les Misérables on YouTube. There are two special renditions: (1) feature with 17 Val jeans from around the world and (2) film excerpt showing the historic context of the song and going to the barricades

The 2nd video reminds us of the REALITIES of the historic context of Les Misérables in France in 1832 after the Storming of the Bastille in 1789. While I enjoy the historic celebration with the 17 Val jeans from around the world, I URGE you to be sure to watch the 2nd video because it reminds us of the real significance of the song, “Do you hear the people sing?”

I find inspiration to read daily news during this time of “chaos” in our political culture as I read about how WE THE PEOPLE of SINGING NOW. I urge you to read the whole text of the song! Here it is:

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people Who will not be slaves again! When the beating of your heart Echoes the beating of the drums There is a life about to start When tomorrow comes!

“Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Somewhere beyond the barricade Is there a world you long to see?

“Then join in the fight That will give you the right to be free!!

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people

“Who will not be slaves again! When the beating of your heart Echoes the beating of the drums There is a life about to start When tomorrow comes!

“Will you give all you can give So that our banner may advance Some will fall and some will live Will you stand up and take your chance? The blood of the martyrs Will water the meadows of France!”

One of the most significant examples of WE THE PEOPLE SINGING is the way in which the survivors of the Wednesday, February 14 – VALENTINE’S DAY - mass killing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL have been SINGING (advocating) for gun control. Have you been following the ways in which these high school students have demonstrated their effective participation in democracy? Their sophistication has shocked many adults! They know that they’re CITIZENS of the US with all the protections of our US Constitution, including the FIRST AMENDMENT. I’ve been shocked to read about attacks on these high school students trying to undermine their sophistication. I know from my experience with Parker High School, Janesville, WI through the years having founded and directed WASHINGTON SEMINAR from 1973 – 2002 = 30 years the REALITY of the maturity and sophistication of high school students. WASHINGTON SEMINAR was in Washington, DC on Field Study on Monday, March 30, 1981 when President Ronald Reagan was shot. Front page of our Janesville Gazette had 3 major articles on Tuesday, March 31, 1981 featuring: (1) Reagan resumes duties, (2) Relatives of Secret Service Agent Kevin McCarthy feel his pain and (3) report of WASHINGTON SEMINAR students on interview about guns entitled, “Local Students Were Discussing Gun Control.”

The Miami Herald reported on February 23 with update on February 25 that the Parkland students were well prepared to advocate for gun control, “Last fall, they debated gun control in class. Now, they debate lawmakers on TV.”

And then, on February 28, Slate published the telling article on the effectiveness of comprehensive education to prepare students to be adult citizens by Dahlia Lithwick, “They were trained for This Moment: How the student activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High demonstrate the power of a comprehensive education.”

If you want a video report with the students about their background to use media, be sure to see CBS News’ Steve Hartman’s “Media-savvy Parkland students on what they’ve sworn off in wake of shooting.”

YOUNG ADULT CITIZENS are SINGING clearly and demonstrating their ability to organize effectively to demonstrate for the effective gun control legislation to protect students and staff at our schools. As a political science professor, I know from research that such DEMONSTRATIONS are very effective. Review the developments in FL as the students have continued with persistence and stamina advocating for the legislation they believe will protect the lives of school students.

Now there are numerous marches on the calendar with both Wednesday, 3/14 in many cities and states and then Saturday, 3/24 in Washington, DC. Reactions are polarized as on other issues. Some school officials in WI and other states have taken actions to block student participation. I find this a dysfunctional policy since these citizens have FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS and schools ought to be teaching democracy/civic education not only in the classroom, but also on the streets. What do you think? I’ll be reading your comments with interest.

On the other hand, other school officials believe in DEMOCRACY and KNOW that the optimal way to teach democracy/citizen is to INVOLVE students in the real political processes. That was a MAJOR commitment of WASHINGTON SEMINAR which was endorsed by the School District of Janesville in 1973 and realized the outstanding results. I’m very grateful to the late HUGH HORSWILL, who was Parker’s first principal and very enthusiastic for WASHINGTON SEMINAR! He was the key to gaining support for a field study in Washington, DC in 1972-73! I trust you read the Gazette’s feature on the opening of Parker HS 50 years ago which was published February 11, 2018.

The survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL. are my chosen example, but there are numerous other very significant movements which, I believe, reflect WE THE PEOPLE SINGING, e.g., 9/11 Truth Movement, Animal rights movement, Anti-bullying movement, Black Lives Matter, Me-too movement, Time’s Up movement.

Which movement are YOU singing in? Watching for your report!

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS) and WI Academic Decathlon. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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