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New Jersey students walk out to fight school aid cutbacks

By David Hungerford |
April 28, 2010
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Newark, NJ - Thousands of high school students in New Jersey walked out of their schools on April 27 to oppose $820 million in cuts to state aid by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Newark had the largest number of students who chose to walk out, with about 2000 students taking over the steps and the street in front of City Hall for their protest. The statewide protest was triggered by a Facebook page posted by Michelle Ryan Lauto, a college freshman.

Newark would be especially hard-hit by the cuts, losing over 150 teachers and many special programs. A Central High School student told the media his school alone would lose 16 teachers, a loss it cannot afford.

Newark has long been a bastion of people’s struggle and the students upheld that city’s proudest traditions. While spontaneous, the walkout showed the young people’s high state of awareness and militant struggle. They carried colorful hand-made signs that said things like “Christie says cut back, we say fight back,” “Education revolution,” and “Save my teacher.”

The young people were ‘rewarded’ for their courage with misleading abuse. A spokesman for the governor said he hoped they were not stand-ins for the New Jersey Education Association. The NJEA is opposed to the governor’s simultaneous imposition of a pay freeze and a charge of 1.5% of salary in health care coverage for teachers. But it was the young people who got themselves out, no one else! The governor’s office should apologize to the students.

Police and school authorities dared take no action against the young people. Indeed, with election day only a few weeks off, Municipal Council President Mildred Crump proclaimed her approval of the young people’s action, calling the budget cuts “draconian” and proclaiming Newark’s students the standard-setters in the state.

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