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Walkouts launch nationwide resistance

Published Mar 10, 2011 9:39 PM

Students in high schools, colleges and universities throughout the U.S. walked out of classes, mainly on March 2, to help launch a month-long protest against cutbacks in public education, including the closing of schools and mass layoffs of teachers.

These walkouts represented student resistance against the bankers’ drive to gut public education in response to the alleged “budget crisis.”

The scene of one mass action was Lincoln High School in South Dallas, Texas when 200 students left school without permission of administrators. By the end of the day, hundreds more students had joined their classmates.

“We can’t wait until June, July, August. The time to start is now in March,” said Damarcus Offord, president of the Lincoln High Student Council who led the protest outside the school. He linked the massive cutbacks to the growing dropout rates, proclaiming: “Losing our teachers is losing our students.” (http://tinyurl.com/4spyv7k)

Eight different high schools organized walkouts near Phoenix, not only to protest cutbacks but against a proposed law requiring schools to report undocumented immigrant students. The rallying cry was “Education, not deportation!” referring to the local war on immigrants. The national attacks on public sector workers and the cutbacks in education were also condemned. (Huffington Post, March 4)

In Boise, Idaho, 130 students walked out of South Junior High School. After rallying outside the school, they proceeded to the Capitol building where they joined high school students from around the state. They were eventually escorted out of the public building by police officers and forced to rally outside. (Idaho Statesman, March 2)

In Berkeley, Calif., 1,000 classes at the University of California were canceled by sympathetic professors who opposed tuition hikes. Nine students were arrested, including four who occupied the fourth-story ledge of a campus building, refusing to leave for hours. When they finally left, they were “greeted with hugs and cheers” from their fellow students. (KABC, March 4)

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee took over Peck Theater, a large campus building, on the morning of March 4. The action was in solidarity with the workers and students who occupied the Capitol building in Madison and protesting assaults on public sector unions by Gov. Scott Walker. Like their comrades at the Capitol, they are refusing to leave until their demands are met.

Three hundred students at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania occupied a campus building March 2 to demand an end to the tolerance for sexual assault by the administration, which has created a hostile environment for women. They are demanding that the college remove students guilty of sexual assault from campus — a promise made a year before but still to be enacted.

The myth that youth in today’s U.S. are a “video-game generation” with no drive to challenge authority is being refuted daily as students rise up in nearly every corner of the country. Students are not limiting their defiance to blog posts or tweets, but occupying the very institutions responsible for their insecure future.

“Wisconsin fever” is spreading across the U.S. — the condition is particularly infectious among the youth.