The National School Walkout to demand gun control laws following the Parkland, FL shooting is only one of many issues students are rising up against. The election of Donald Trump and conservatives backed by the NRA, fundamentalist religious groups, the KOCH's, etc., gave Republicans full control of the executive and both legislative branches of the U.S.

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government so there is no compromise. One party rule has resulted in deep budget cuts to education and its institutions, increasing civil rights inequities, and environmental deregulation with more in the works. The determination to fight conservative extremism has brought about an insurgence of grassroots advocacy at the state and national level by high school and college students. Teachers, women's groups, and other organizations are falling in behind them.

Photographer Alec Perkins: We will not be silenced/Flickr
Photographer Alec Perkins: We will not be silenced/Flickr

With the mainstream media and the public primarily focused on Trump and infighting between Conservatives and Liberals, as well as within their separate parties, only minimal attention has been given to the growing grassroots advocacy going on across the country. The Education Opportunity Network named the Youth Empower branch of the Women's March organization as having organized the National School Walkout to protest gun violence. The majority of Americans only knew that it was in response to the Parkland, FL school shooting that culminated in the deaths of a coach, two teachers, and fourteen students.

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Bucking the system

Students who are old enough to vote or will turn eighteen in time to vote in the November midterm elections are coming together as a united front to fight the system they feel is abandoning mainstream America. Student and teacher activism related to other issues is also spreading from state to state. The recent West Virginia teacher strike is one example. Teachers and public employees in the right to work state, in defiance of the state law ending collective bargaining, shut down all schools across the state with backing from students.

As cited by Our Future's Organization nearly 20,000 teachers and 13,000 school service personnel in all 55 counties walked off the job and kept schools closed for nine days. School boards and administrators, in a show of solidarity, took no action to end the walkout. Refusing to return until their demands were met, state lawmakers had no choice but to cave in to demands.

Oklahoma, another right to work state, is slated to do the same on April 2nd.

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Driven by public advocacy groups and other education organizations, other states are following West Virginia's lead. Arizona advocates are pushing for a strike over college student loans and the cost of a college education, school resource cuts, and poor teacher pay. And Kentucky teachers are up in arms over state cuts to their health insurance and other benefits.

Social media and advocacy

Using the internet and social media sites as tools, high school and college students are rallying other youth and adults who share the same values to join their national movement to fight Republican extremism.

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The targets are politicians and lawmakers, and extreme right-wing groups behind the weakening of civil rights and constitutional protections, and the deregulation of environmental protections in the name of corporate greed and political posturing. Much of the current anger is also being levied against Republicans kowtowing to the NRA push to arm teachers with guns, as well. Trump's executive orders and Republican legislation on voting rights, women's reproductive rights, DACA, and the privatization of education are also mobilizing America's youth and the adults who support them. They include Moderates in both parties, Democrats, Liberals, Progressives, and Independents. And the message is being heard loud and clear.

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