CBS News’ “60 Minutes” featured an education story for the second week in a row. Last week, it was a profile of Betsy DeVos that many viewers—certainly her critics—considered a disaster for the U.S. secretary of education.
On Sunday, correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi interviewed five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who are among the leaders of the student movement for gun control and other measures after the Feb. 14 shootings that left 17 dead.
Alfonsi asked the students why they believe they can succeed in effecting more changes in laws and attitudes than, say, the parents of the victims of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 students and six adults.
Alex Wind, called a “self-described theater geek” by Alfonsi, said, “The thing about it is we are the generation that’s had to be trapped in closets, waiting for police to come or waiting for a shooter to walk into our door. We are the people who know what it’s like first-hand.”
The answer of Cameron Kaski, another Stoneman Douglas student leader, was a little snappier as he referenced the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colo., which resulted in the deaths of 13 students and teachers as well as the two student perpetrators.
“We’re the mass shooting generation,” Kaski said. “I was born months after Columbine. I’m 17 years old, and we’ve had 17 years of mass shootings.”
Other students in the interview were Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, and Emma Gonzalez, who became famous at a rally days after the Parkland shooting for her speech with the tagline, “We call B.S.!”
Gonzalez explained that she earnestly believes she went viral in part because of her close-cropped haircut. “I think it was a little bit the hair,” she said. “Like, you know, just iconically you think of the picture and you think of a bald girl.”
Alfonsi showed the students preparing for this Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and many other cities.
She interviewed Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was among those killed in the Parkland shooting. He said the power of the student leaders should not be underestimated.
“The difference between this tragedy and others, if you ask me, is that this generation is used to getting answers right away,” Oliver said. “You think they’re gonna wait for six months or a year for anybody in Congress or anybody that needs to to make the right call?”
Alfonsi agreed, saying, “They’re hard-wired to do things quickly.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.