Can You Hear Me Now?

Okay.  Maybe not ME specifically, or really TEACHERS either, but STUDENTS.  At least it’s a significant stakeholder in education making noise, and not more people who haven’t ever walked the walk (but feel FREE to talk the talk).  

Did y’all hear about the students who walked out of their high schools in New Jersey today to protest the proposed school budget cuts and potential teacher lay offs?  Gov. Christie has proposed massive school budget cuts which would result in the loss of many music, after school, and arts programs or WORSE in some towns.  I heard the buzz about the walkout a few days ago.  And I’d have to be in a coma to avoid hearing about all this drama on the news.  I even heard a commercial this morning (while I was cutting my grapefruit, so wasn’t paying super close attention) which mentioned the idea of  a “voluntary pay freeze.”

Say whaaaaaaat?

WE have to VOLUNTEER for a PAY FREEZE?!?  Um, I’m fairly certain that there are SEVERAL government employees in NJ who are making slightly more money than your typical teacher.  I’m also fairly certain that these individuals will not be volunteering for a pay freeze, pay cut or pay anything.   (Once a d-bag, always a ….)

Friends, we now need to add to our To Do List balancing federal, state and local budgets.  Try to squeeze it in somewhere between solving childhood obesity and overcoming the wide reaching effects of poverty.  Need to borrow a pen?  

Evidently an 18 year old college student, and former New Jersey public school graduate, motivated the movement with a page on Facebook which spread like wildfire via other social media like Twitter and texting.  

Gotta love the power of cell phones.

Now I’m not condoning kids walking out of school.  Kids belong in school.  With their teachers.  However, they must have gotten sick of all the finger pointing too.  And maybe someone will listen to THEM.  (And again, don’t want to get into a big debate about unions and all, but at least the kids can speak out for themselves…)

Here’s a snip it of Christie’s response:
“First, students belong in the classroom, and we hope all efforts were made to curtail student walkouts. 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.”

Do you love his implication that kids were using this as a way to get out of school for the day?  Way to demean what appears to be a motivated and peaceful group of young people getting involved!  Passive aggressive much?

I also loved his not so subtle implication that teachers are responsible for students “one-sided views of the current budget crisis.”  Seriously, do we have a collective Kick Me sign on our backs?  If you check mine, I’ll check yours.  And where, pray tell, are children going to get this “full, impartial understanding”? From Governor Christie himself? He sounds all kinds of impartial.  * eye roll *

We’ll see what the fall out is from this student protest.  Even though it was organized by a student, led by students and made up of solely students, I can smell the blame from here.

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  • Mrs. Mimi – I am a recent graduate of a northern NJ high school and am now a secondary education student at Indiana University. I have been following this story for quite a while now, especially how it has affected my home town. This article from our local paper talks about the pay freeze my teachers have taken and the impact of Christie's cuts on local schools.

    I do not know if students from my high school walked out, but the situation in NJ is getting out of hand and something needs to be done. Thank you for shining a light on this topic.

    Also, if you have not read it, Dr. David Verducci, Superintendent of Glen Rock Schools wrote a letter to Governor Christie in hopes that he will visit the district and see first-hand how his budget cuts will affect every student, teacher, and school.

    April 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm
  • I think the social action and comradery between the students, and the obvious passion they have about their school, is pretty amazing. And here I was thinking that testing took away their autonomy and did not teach them civics and other skills. Wow. That's remarkable.

    April 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm
  • How sad that our country has gotten to this point, in which students feel that they must walk out in order to help teachers.

    I teach at a private school and I've been contemplating moving to public school for several reasons.

    However. I am now looking for something outside of education. Which is a shame, because I'm a damn good teacher with lots of experience. I think the system is too broken and I feel pretty hopeless about it.

    April 29, 2010 at 11:23 am
  • Christie's been out there encouraging locals to vote down their school budgets, which actually happened in a record number of districts.

    I guess the only thing that's surprising is how blatant the war on teachers has become.

    Jonathan jd2718

    May 3, 2010 at 12:57 am
  • I just found your blog and I am really enjoying it. I am a middle school teacher in NJ and our high school was one of the many schools that had a walk out. Its not fun to be a teacher in Jersey right now. If you get a chance, check out my blog It's mainly about teaching with a little "life" in between 🙂

    May 4, 2010 at 11:18 am

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