If Rose Thomas were in my high school civics class, I’d give her an A. Thomas is the student council president of Bexley High School in Columbus, Ohio, and a leader of a planned student walkout to protest gun violence in schools. Those who walk out of their classes at Bexley will serve an hour-long detention, the school’s standard penalty for cutting class. But they’re not upset about it.

Thomas and her fellow protesters wisely acknowledge that their act of civil disobedience has no point without a punishment, and the district can’t show favoritism for one viewpoint or issue. If Bexley’s principal “doesn’t punish the demonstrators supporting Parkland, ‘he has to [allow] it for every cause,’ ” Thomas explained to The Columbus Dispatch.

Student civic engagement is to be encouraged, even celebrated, but that doesn’t mean it must meet with official approval. Indeed, it is essential that it does not. If students have permission to walk out, it’s no longer student activism at all.

It’s a field trip. And that’s part of the teachable moment, too. The message to students should be clear: If this issue is important to you, then it’s worth the consequence.

Otherwise, you’re not protesting gun violence, you’re boycotting chemistry class. By its very nature, an act of civil disobedience means the protester refuses to comply with rule, norms, and expectations. Permission, by definition, restores the element of compliance, robbing the protest of any meaning.

Read the full article on student walkouts by Robert Pondiscio at The 74