Thousands of Students Strike in New Jersey High Schools Against Budget Cuts

John Kalwaic

Students Walk OutTens of thousands of New Jersey high schools students walked out of class on April 27 to protest the proposed $820 million in education cuts by New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie. Around 17,000 students walked out at Montclair, Eastern Regional and West Orange High School and many other high schools in Newark and Camden. The walkout was organized through Facebook, a social networking site that high school students used to facilitate communication.

At Williamstown High School in Gloucester County students walked out of class and were not allowed to come back in by police, even after the police promised that they would be let back in. In downtown Newark thousands of students crowded City Hall chanting “save our schools.” At Montclair High School students held signs saying, “cut class not classes.” The budget cuts came after voters, thinking that the proposed budgets would raise property taxes, rejected the proposals.

This action came a few months after massive walkouts in California by both teachers and students in high schools, universities, colleges and even elementary schools against budget cuts proposed by the governor on March 4. A resistance movement among student populations has built up to confront the persistent budget cuts to education in both California and New Jersey. New Jersey high school students are angry that their classes and extra curricular activities are being cut and that teachers might have their salaries cut or be laid off completely. The political establishment condemned the budget cuts. Governor Christie issued a statement saying that “students should be in class” and the walkouts should have not been allowed to take place. Many students were threatened with repercussions including having driving, prom and extra-curricular activity privileges revoked. As the economic downturn continues there is going to be more scapegoating on social spending and more resistance to these cuts as well. The recent walkouts in California and New Jersey prove that students will continue to resist education cuts in radical ways.