Apr 29, 2010

In the news

I skim the headlines for the NYTimes most days. I read a few stories, but mostly a quick skim is enough for me.

This headline caught my eye today:
"In New Jersey, a Civics Lesson in the Internet Age"

A college freshman made a facebook page encouraging high school students statewide to make their voices heard about budget cuts in the public school system. New Jersey, like many states, is facing tremendous budget shortfalls and struggling to balance the books. Like so many other places, the first cuts that are threatened are teachers, cops, and firemen. The sheepdogs and the shepherds.

Students are upset - understandably so. Of course, most of them aren't paying taxes yet, so the idea of a hike in the property taxes is a bit of a theoretical proposition.

What got me, though, were these two bits:

Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary, released a statement on Tuesday saying that students belonged in the classroom. "It is also our firm hope that the students were motivated by youthful rebellion or spring fever," Mr. Drewniak said, "and not by encouragement from any one-sided view of the current budget crisis in New Jersey."


But in many other places, students came to school ready to make a political statement. Emma Wolin, a junior at Columbia High, walked out of second-period Spanish with several classmates, even though the school had warned that they would face detention.

Mr. Drewniak is trying to spin this as "kids being kids". It isn't. Not at all. Senior Skip Day is a child's prank. Walking out of class to make your views known is exercising your rights - doubly so because the schools made it clear that these actions would have consequences.

These young protesters may not have a complete picture of what they are protesting - but they are willing to take consequences in order to make their voices heard, and for that, I applaud them.

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