Moore: Maher Should Be Ousted Over Student Protest

Monday, January 23, 2017


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“They can’t stop us,” the students from Providence’s high schools chanted over and over as they left their schools and marched towards the statehouse.

Apparently, the students couldn’t have been more right. And it was a terrible message for the administration to send the students.

The message was that actions don’t have consequences. That students can abdicate their responsibilities when something doesn’t go the way they would have liked. Temper tantrums will be tolerated.

That was the message that the administration, led by school superintendent Christopher Maher sent students by giving them what can only be described as a proverbial slap on the wrist.

Maher had been making weak statements in the press for days running up to Trump’s inauguration and vowing that students who participated would be given an “unexcused absence”.

A Weak Response

Classical High School went so far as to move their scheduled midterm exams up from Friday to today, in order to accommodate the students who would be leaving school under the guise of protesting the inauguration of President Trump!  

The most offensive action by the school department, however, was when Maher actually went so far as to thank the students who walked out, apparently because they did it in some sort of orderly and nonviolent fashion.

“He also wishes to thank the students who chose to stay at school today and is grateful that those who choose to walk conducted themselves in a respectful and orderly manner,” said Maher in a statement, according to a report by

How could anyone not shudder while reading that? How can Maher be “grateful” about anything that those unruly students did last Friday?

"Grateful" To Unruly Students

If the students were really upset over Trump’s inauguration, why protest during school hours? Why not organize a protest during a time when they were not supposed to be learning?

Instead of demanding that students remain in school, and giving any student who leaves school detention, suspending those who play sports or are involved in clubs from participating, and taking any other punitive actions, the superintendent was “grateful” to the students for leaving in a nice way.

And then the administration and city leadership wonders why the public has so little faith in the city’s ability to educate students?

They cannot even keep them in school. How can they educate them?

Who is In Charge?

Imagine if an emergency occurred off of school grounds and a student was seriously injured. The district would have been facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit over their negligent actions.

Let’s face it: the next time the school administration does anything that the students dislike or don’t agree with, they’re simply going to walk out of school and demand that the administration switch course. After all, the administration cannot stop them--as they freely, almost gleefully admitted.

In this particular instance, the students were protesting something that the administration wasn’t even responsible for. Just imagine the blow back the next time the administration does something they don’t like.

It’s not far-fetched to say that the students are now in charge.

The real heroes here were the students with the courage to stand up against the crowd and remain in school. Those students showed courage by standing up to their friends. At least someone around here has some.

The administration surely doesn’t.

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Russell J. Moore has worked on both sides of the desk in Rhode Island media, both for newspapers and on political campaigns. Follow him on twitter Send him email at


Related Slideshow: State House Trump Protest, November, 2016


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