Tens of thousands of New Jersey high school students walked out of classes yesterday in what the New York Times called “one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years.” The protests were a response to school funding cuts by New Jersey’s new governor, and to the rejection of school funding measures in ballot initiatives across the state last week.

The walkouts were the result of a Facebook call-to-arms posted weeks ago by Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old college first-year and 2009 graduate of Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan.

Governor Christopher Christie belittled the protests in a statement, expressing the “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.”

Lauto’s first student activism came in seventh grade, when she organized a (failed) protest against a new school dress code.