Almost 1,000 Newark students walked out of school today. They want your attention.

“Our schools are being de-stabilized by Chris Christie, Cami Anderson and the corporations that will profit from privatizing our public schools.”

“We have a duty to fight! We have a duty to win!”

                           – Kristin Towkaniuk, Newark Students Union

“The system is built to make us fail.”

                           – sign, carried by a HS student

It’s a risky thing, to walk out of school to mount a protest. I’ve only done it once, the morning after Martin Luther King was killed after a black kid was roughed up by police for no reason. When word got to school, everything stopped, the older kids called assembly and not only was there no stopping them, the administrators, teachers and parents backed them. We surrounded the police station. I learned so much that day. About organizing, about taking responsibility for what you see is happening.

Today’s students in Newark did something bigger, though they also took the risk that you may argue walking out of school is counter-intuitive and dangerous, particularly when the issue is their education.

But I’m in awe of them. They have plenty arrayed against them; their state government, some of their leaders, the press, corporations who want to profit off of them. But they intend for us to listen, and they’re out front now.

Organizers say 850-1,000 students walked out at noon, called to action by the Newark Students Union. As they converged, they stopped at institutions supporting Cami Anderson’s move to worsen, destroy and then privatize their public schools. They want your attention to the fact that profit motives drive Anderson’s charter push. They stopped in front of – and called out – Prudential, Teach for America, the Foundation for Newark’s Future (read: Mark Zuckerberg’s $100M) and charter operator KIPP/Team Academy. They called it the “March of Shame”. In front of Teach for America, the high schoolers were joined by Rutgers students, some of them studying to become teachers themselves.

All this, despite what they called “intimidation,” including threats to lock them in. I’ve met some of these young adults, and I’ve heard them speak. They didn’t give up the opportunity of their education today. They’re perceptive, they see what’s happening, and they’re in the fight.

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