Photo Credit: Associated Press
“I know people are sleeping over at a park.” Said 7-year-old Cloe Davis who is a second grader at Little Red School House in the West Village. “But I don’t know why,” she added. All evidence shows that lower schools have left the education of the Occupation on Wall Street to the parents.
Schools have been vague about teaching the Wall Street protest to children. It is a debate as to whether the protest should be discussed at all in schools. But there are many alternative sources to aid parents in their attempt to explain what it means.
On October 10th all of the lower schools in Manhattan were off to celebrate the day Columbus is said to have discovered the Americas. However, a group of PTA parents from the Four Central Park East II Elementary School brought their children made to Zuccotti Park, in an event they named ‘Un-Columbus Day’ according to alternet.org. According to the Occupation’s website, October 14th marked another family day in order to educate children.
It is not clear whether schools are teaching the protest, though one teacher in Zuccotti park held up a sign last night that read ‘Inform, not Reform.’ There are safety and political reasons why teachers are not allowed to bring their children down to Wall Street. Though there were many teachers with their own children on 'Un-Columbus Day.'
Others believe that, especially for Lower School, the protest should not be dealt with in the classroom. “It’s hard for them to understand.” Said Marie, a Secretary at Spruce Street School an elementary school on Spruce Street located near City Hall. A representative of Brooklyn Friends School of Downtown Brooklyn said she wasn't sure, but added, "I'm sure that some classes might be doing something on the protest."
Sarah Casselle the President of the PTA committee of P.S. 89 insisted that children are not learning or talking about it if they are not directly faced with it every day. P.S. 89 is located Warren Street on the Lower West side of Manhattan, several blocks away from the park. According to Casselle, it is for this reason that her son is not asking about it. Casselle said, “P.S. 89 is quite a few blocks away and several physical barriers away from the protest.” She added, “my son doesn’t come home discussing the protest with his friends.”
According to Casselle, the protest is not in school policy and should be left for home discussion with parents. She added that her son looks through newspapers and is informed by that as well.
Though many schools do not advertise discussions of the Occupation, parents are being encouraged to educate their children through bringing their own children to protest locations, or with with alternative sources on the web such as videos on youtube.com. The young adult writer Lemony Snicket, best known for her Series of Unfortunate Events book recently published a book that attempts to describe the protest to children entitled The Lump of Coal, according to the Washington Post.