A number of students in New Jersey walked out of school today to protest Governor Christie’s proposed education budget cuts. The protest, which was organized on Facebook, had gained support from students attending multiple schools across the state, including Williamstown High School, Gateway Regional High School, and Eastern Regional High School. As of this afternoon over 17,000 students confirmed that they were going to walk out of school to protest Christie’s announcement “that he was freezing aid promised to districts this year and cutting $820 million for fiscal 2011.”
It isn’t clear yet just how many actually walked out of class today, as many school administrators deterred some would be protestors with threats of suspension. And although the largest teacher’s union in the state, The New Jersey Education Association, notes that “the students are ‘engaging in civil disobedience’” they also stated that students “shouldn’t walk out of classes.”
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Some adults, like school board member Shavar Jeffries, did support the walkout. As he told the Star-Ledger, “‘I’m very proud of our kids for protesting in a peaceful disciplined way,’ he said adding that while the students were enthusiastic they maintained order. ‘They’re organized, they’re disciplined, they’re beautiful.’”
I’m with Jeffries. Although it’s important that kids are in school learning, it’s also important that students stand up for their beliefs. Students are fearful that the large budget cuts will not only lead to the laying off of teachers, but will also result in the loss of various arts and athletics programs. Budget deficits are not a problem these kids helped to create and yet they (along with their teachers) are going to be most affected by cuts to education spending. I know that some of the students who walked out today probably just left to get out of class, but for those kids who are fighting for their education, bravo. Apparently your teachers taught you right.