Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Facebook Organizes Statewide Walkout of NJ Students in Protest of Proposed Budget Cuts . . . Could this happen in TESD?

Last night was the monthly TESD meeting. Although I have heard a few comments privately, I have not received a formal update. Did any of the readers attend the meeting? Is there any ‘new’ news to report? Speaking of school districts and budgets, a Community Matters reader sent me the following article — apparently today there has been an orchestrated walkout by New Jersey students to protest the planned budget cuts to the school district. Impressive that the students throughout the state were taken a stand against Gov Christie’s budget cuts. Organized completely with the use of Facebook — there should no longer be any doubt about the part that social media is playing with today’s events, issues, etc. Social media methods are changing the way we receive our information and updates; it is changing our future’s history.

New Jersey Students Walkout Over Budget

Thousands of high school students are walking out of class Tuesday to oppose New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s proposed cuts to education. Fox 29’s Steve Keeley reported from Pennsauken High School outside Philadelphia, where students began filing out of the building around 8:00 AM. There are reports of students leaving classrooms throughout the state. In all, about 16,000 students pledged on Facebook to walk out of school between 8 AM and 4 PM.

There also is a confirmed walkout at Rancocas Valley High School in Burlington County. Other schools that could be targeted are Southern Regional High School in Ocean County; Hammonton High School in Atlantic County; and Middle Township High School in Cape May County. In North Jersey, MyFoxNY was at Montclair High School , where students walked out on Tuesday. Keeley says the walkout at his location in Pennsauken is “very orderly.”

The planned protest comes one week after a majority of school budgets were rejected for the first time in 34 years. Voters in 537 districts turned down 59 percent of the budgets. Schools are facing the prospect of layoffs and program cuts. The governor says layoffs would not be needed if teachers take voluntary pay freezes and begin paying part of their health insurance premiums. The Facebook site was organized by Michelle Lauto. The 18-year-old college student went to high school in Bergen County. Lauto has relatives who will be affected by the cuts.

The state’s largest teacher’s union says students are “engaging in civil disobedience” but shouldn’t walk out of classes.

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  1. Sorry to see anyone applaud this. Christie was elected by their parents — who pay the taxes — and pledged this. Why do people forget that voting is the ultimate answer. This is about as helpful as the WIlliam Penn strike — makes a noise but proves nothing and forces nothing….

    1. TR.. Agreed. Hopefully Christie can show the way. If my kid missed school because of this walkout, he would go straight to the woodshed. This walkout has no bearing to reality. And the teachers sit back and applaud this? Or do they discourage it? Let the kids put their necks out on the block for the “entitled” class. Someone is giving these kids bad advice. No facebook for two weeks!

  2. Those stupid kids are the one’s who will be paying for the teacher’s pensions and salaries, that is if they are stupid enough to stay in NJ for the long term.

  3. The flood of news about the dire outlook for the country’s education system is unavoidable. From the lead item on “old media” national news: to the NJ student walk-out organized and reported here on “new media”. Perhaps we can take the student walk-out as a sign of dis-satisfaction with all the grown ups charged with providing them with an affordable education?

    The bubble that promised bountiful salary and benefits increases, 85% pensions, and retiree healthcare coverage has burst and is not inflating again anytime soon. So what happens? Education programs and jobs are being cut. Up to 300,000 teachers (the lowest seniority, of course) nationwide, and so far 20 or so positions here in T/E.

    Some jurisdictions are being proactive in trying to address the cost escalations that are driving the problem. Some unions in New Jersey have frozen salaries for a year and increased union benefit contributions. Here in Pennsylvania, the North Penn district has withstood a strike rather than accept the old level of annual longevity pay increases.

    We’ve heard nothing from T/E Board, beyond statements that the contract is inviolable without the union opening it up, which they will not, and that things will be different in the next contract. From the union, no public acknowledgment of the issue, its causes, nor any solutions. All heading for a very unpleasant showdown in 2011/12, with students right in the middle and suffering most.

    Instead, the Board is working on a Budget for the short term, that uses the fund balance and relies on temporary spending reductions. Notwithstanding earlier commitments to take a 3 year view. So we will be back having exactly the same discussion next year.

    At the Board meeting I raised my concern, and introduced an analysis of the year-on-year district wide percentage cost increases as a result of progression from one annual level on the TEEA salary matrix to the next level on the next matrix. I’ve reported those numbers here before, and I believe if they are correct and if taxpayers understood them, the discussion would be much more pointed.

    The analysis depends on understanding the distribution of individuals on the matrix, and I have asked the Board to provide this information.

    I firmly believe that if this country is to recover its verve and be an effective global competitor we have to reconsider the growth in “entitlements” that – but for the ability to devalue the dollar – will drive us down Greece’s path. Our own local union contracts are right in there with Medicare, Social Security, state government spending and everything else in between. Why is it so hard to for the economy to flex to what we can actually afford and for responsibility to be shared?

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