High school students in Newark will walk out of classes today at noon, marching to Rutgers Law School to attend a State Assembly budget hearing on education funding.
The demonstration is being staged by the Newark Students Union (Facebook | Twitter) to protest school closings and budget cuts. A 2010 walkout drew thousands of students to Newark’s city hall, leading Governor Chris Christie to complain that school officials had done “a lousy job” in keeping students on campus.
You can follow all the action on twitter at the #NPSWalkout hashtag, and I’ll be updating this post once things get underway.
11:50 am | Students have started walking out.
12:30 pm | Reports on Twitter of walkouts at eight Newark high schools: Bard, Central, East Side, Vocational, Science, Technology, University, Weequahic.
12:50 pm |Students at East Side and Weequahic high schools say that exit doors have been locked and they have been prevented from leaving.
1:00 pm | Reports of a late walkout at West Side HS.
1:25 pm | @NewarkStudents reports that there are delegations present from Arts, Shabazz, and North Star Academy at the demonstration, in addition to all those listed above.
1:30 pm | Need to go teach. More later.
4:30 pm | So, the walkout and demonstration are over. One local newspaper estimated participation at one thousand students, though they also claimed “half a dozen schools,” when the true number is at least twice that, so who knows? One important thing to remember is that participation was clearly suppressed by school officials — they warned students that they could be punished for participating, and at several schools reportedly took aggressive measures to prevent students from leaving. Given that, a walkout rate of around ten percent of the city’s high school students is quite dramatic.
4:50 pm | Journalist Rania Khalek has an excellent liveblog on the day’s events. Go read it.
4:55 pm | The Star-Ledger story I linked above reported participation from American History, Arts, Central, Science, Technology, and University. I saw tweets from students who had walked out at Bard, Vocational, Weequahic, and West Side as well, and walkout organizers reported that students walked out of East Side and Shabazz. That’s twelve, plus North Star Academy, a charter.