New Jersey students protest proposed budget cuts

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thousands of New Jersey public school students walked out of classes Tuesday, in protest of Governor Chris Christie's proposed budget cuts. Although there is no definite number, it is estimated that around 18,000 students did not attend classes.

The walk-out was spurred by a Facebook event calling on students to skip classes and picket their local school boards. The leader of the group, former student Michelle Ryan Lauto, said that she "just want to draw attention to the entire issue and I want to show both the governor and his administration that the youth is not apathetic towards these cuts and that we care very very much so about what happens to our education and our extra curricular activities."

The demonstrations come soon after voters in 59% of the state school districts opposed a proposal to increase property tax levies to pay for schools.

The state's largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, said that the students, who "were engaging in civil disobedience", should not walk-out on classes.

The governor's office responded to the protests in a statement, saying: "It is also our firm hope that the students were motivated by youthful rebellion or spring fever — and not by encouragement from any one-sided view of the current budget crisis in New Jersey. Students would be better served if they were given a full, impartial understanding of the problems that got us here in the first place and why dramatic action was needed."