Prepared by Flip the 14.
On Friday, April 20th, at 10 am, on the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, students across the country are walking out of the classroom to say we’ve had ENOUGH gun violence. Many California schools are participating. A student-driven list of schools joining the walkout is available here:
Young people in our country involved in the movement to prevent gun violence are wise beyond their years. This is a great opportunity for California’s Resistance to build and grow relationships with students, teachers, and faculty in our communities. Indeed, students up and down our state are already leaders in the movement. It’s also an opportunity to encourage 18 year old students to register to vote and alert students that, in California, if they are 16 or 17 years old, they can pre-register to vote at http://registertovote.ca.gov.
Indeed, this year, April 16-27 is designated High School Voter Education Weeks in California. Under the California Education Code, county elections officers are encouraged to help facilitate voter registration on campus in the last two weeks of April. As the Secretary of State’s website explains, “This provides an opportunity for high schools and their students to partner with county elections officials to promote civic education and participation on campus and foster an environment that cultivates lifelong voters and active citizens.”
Anyone pre-registered can vote when they turn 18, which means many people who are 17 today will be eligible to vote in the June or November 2018 elections. And if they live in one of the 14 California congressional districts currently represented by a Republican, their representative in Washington is someone who has consistently stood in the way of gun safety legislation.
Every school district is different, and no walk out will provide precisely the same opportunities. Consider the below list of suggestions a starting point.
Steps to Consider in Preparation for the National School Walkout
- Identify schools participating in a walkout near you. That list is available here in a format that lets you search a map or use a zip code: https://act.indivisible.org/event/national-school-walkout/create/.
- For students: if a walkout doesn’t exist at your school, register it. The form to register a walkout is available here: https://act.indivisible.org/event/national-school-walkout/create/.
- For other activists: determine if your activist network has an “in” in the high school. Given the quick turnaround needed to make this a success, someone with knowledge of the high school may be best equipped to interface with student leaders, faculty advisors, motivated teachers, and the School Administration. Consider sending an email to your local Resistance list or posting to a relevant social media group asking if anyone would be interested in helping register students to vote. You’re looking for a student in the high school, someone who works in the high school, or someone who is the parent of a student in the high school. These are valuable relationships to build and nurture.
- Try to identify who is organizing the walkout. If the organizer(s) for an existing walkout are unknown, try to identify some students or teachers who are helping to organize the walkout and reach out to them with your interest in helping to register students.
- Reach out to your County Education office to see what can be arranged in connection with High School Voter Education Weeks in California. In a matter of fortuitous timing, the national walkout happens to fall in the middle of California’s twice a year high school voter registration push. More information and resources are available here: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california/help-strengthen-our-democracy/high-school-voter-education-weeks/.
Try to identify civic-minded student groups that would be interested in helping alert students to voter registration opportunities. While public lists of student leaders and/or faculty advisors are hard to find, your contacts within the high school might be able to determine who needs to be contacted. If not, they almost certainly know someone who knows. A partial list of student groups to reach out to includes:
- Student Government
- Youth and Government
- Junior State of America
- Model United Nations
- Mock Trial
- Speech and Debate Club
- Black Student Union
- Gay-Straight Alliance
- Young Democrats
- Key Club
- Leo Club
- Amnesty International
- AP Government or a Similar Civics-oriented Class
- Let the students lead. While you bring ideas to the table to help make the event as impactful as possible, respect the students who are leading the walkout and follow their guidance on how you can best help. Come up with a plan of action in consultation with student leaders.
- Consult the School Administration about your plans and work with them to make it a success for all involved. This is especially important if anyone not affiliated with the school will be on or near school property on the day of action. Remember, their top priority is the safety of their students.
- Take note of the time. The walkouts are scheduled to being at 10am, and most will wrap up within minutes. Act with urgency at the event, knowing how little time you have to make an impact.
- Be mindful of the March for Our Lives demands. These student-driven demands are commonsense, broadly popular, and focused on concrete actions that will save lives: requiring universal background checks and banning weapons of war and high-capacity magazines. You can learn more here: https://marchforourlives.com/mission-statement/.
- Publicize your action and success. Many of the walkouts will be covered by local media. Don’t be bashful in telling them about your work registering and pre-registering students. We want students across the state to know that their vote and voice matters. Once your plans are finalized, consider reaching out to newsrooms in advance of the walkout.
Actions to Consider on the Day of the National School Walkout
- Speak out at the event. Determine if there is an opportunity to speak. Some events may have a structured speaking schedule. Others may pass a bullhorn. Use it as an opportunity to plug pre-registration. It is highly preferable for a student leader to be the speaker. We encourage the speaker to specifically encourage 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote and to direct them tohttp://registertovote.ca.gov. Note that it is a website accessible in multiple languages.
- Register and pre-register students at the event. This can be done with paper registration forms or using the online platform athttp://registertovote.ca.gov. Consider using tablets, laptops, or smartphones for this process. Volunteers with clip boards could also be efficient, and registration forms can be picked up at county elections offices. Remember, there are specific laws around paper registration forms. These include non-discrimination and non-partisanship in the distribution and collection of registration forms and the returning of them to the county elections office within three working days. More information is available at:http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/frequently-asked-questions.
- Distribute flyers. Print copies of the Secretary of State’s flyer promoting pre-registration to distribute to students: http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov//outreach/pdf/pre-reg-flyer.pdf
Let students know their representative’s record on gun safety. If a student lives in one of the 14 districts represented by a Republican in Congress, they are represented by someone who has consistently opposed gun safety legislation while taking NRA cash. H.J.Res.40, signed into law by President Trump in 2017, passed the House without a single Congressional Republican in California saying no. That bill stopped a commonsense Obama-era safety measure that expanded the pool of people who need to undergo a background check to purchase a firearm. While 97% of Americans support universal background checks, Ken Calvert, Paul Cook, Jeff Denham, Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa, Steve Knight, Kevin McCarthy, Tom McClintock, Devin Nunes, Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce, David Valadao, and Mimi Walters actually voted to reduce the number of background checks (Doug LaMalfa missed that vote, but there’s no reason to think he disagreed). They are dangerously out of touch, and California students need to know that. Here’s how much each has collected from the NRA:
- Ken Calvert: $147,166
- Ed Royce: $109,120
- Tom McClintock: $95,156
- Kevin McCarthy: $86,850
- Jeff Denham: $62,900
- Darrell Issa: $54,270
- David Valadao: $49,200
- Dana Rohrabacher: $42,150
- Duncan Hunter: $41,087
- Devin Nunes: $37,450
- Mimi Walters: $19,650
- Paul Cook: $16,100
- Steve Knight: $15,054
- Doug LaMalfa: $13,500
- Promote the action on social media. Make it known that students in your community are fed up with Republicans in Congress doing nothing to stop gun violence. The hashtag #NationalSchoolWalkout will be trending across all platforms. Other popular hashtags will include #NeverAgain, #StudentsStandUp, and #MarchForOurLives. Share good media coverage of the action, whether or not they covered the voter registration component specifically. Use your networks to help students have their voice heard.
Who Are We
Flip the 14 is an organization focused on helping take back Congress to restore accountability and decency in Washington. Our goal is to provide the Resistance with all the tools and services it needs to secure victory in November. This includes innovative field operations and strategies to increase voter participation. California’s 14 Republicans in Congress all have atrocious gun safety records, but that’s just the beginning of the many ways they hurt people in our state. To learn more, visit http://www.flipthe14.com. You can chip in to help us continue this important work at http://www.flipthe14.com/donate.