Boston Public School Students Walkout to Protest Cuts – Again

(Photo: WBUR)

(Photo: WBUR)

Earlier this week, another protest by Boston students took place to spotlight the school budget cuts being ordered by the City Council. The second such demonstration in the last few months has shown that Boston students feel compelled to speak their minds.

“I think that the first priority of the entire world should be education, because education is the future,” Angel Pena, 17, declared as he exited the O’Bryant School of Math & Science in Roxbury Crossing just after 1 p.m., along with a dozen classmates.

On the same day, the City Council was having a budget hearing, during which students marched into City Hall chanting “BPS! BPS!” and “The whole world is watching!” The crowd filled the council chamber and made it difficult for members to hear one another.

Despite the fact that Boston police were present in full force, no clashes among the protestors occurred, says The Boston Globe’s Jeremy C. Fox.

During the meeting, Councilor Tito Jackson invited parents and students to speak openly. Several of those who responded to the invitation to be heard broke down in tears. One of the questions asked by many in attendance was why Boston schools receive less funding than schools in wealthy suburb districts.

Jahi Spaloss, a senior at Boston Green Academy and one of the demonstration’s organizers, said:

“This is educational injustice. One of the biggest human rights that anyone should have . . . is the right to a free education. It is time for you to acknowledge us. It is time for the adults to support us. It is time for you to listen to the youth.”

In March, a student walk-out included over 2,000 students, says Allison Pohle, writing for The Boston Globe. This protest was advertised on Facebook two weeks before it was scheduled to take place. The Facebook page asked students to post photographs with the tag #WhyTheWalkout. Tuesday’s protest was made up of roughly 1,000 students.

Bruno Köppel, an Excel High School senior, used the online photos and a remixed clip of Mayor Marty Walsh to make a video that would promote the rally even further. Köppel added that his video explains that students are walking out to prevent school closings, to object to budget cuts, and to actually integrate Boston Public Schools.

Mentioning the desegregation goal is especially fitting since the walkout occurred on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision which ordered that segregation was unconstitutional.

BPS, teachers, and principals were opposed to the date of the demonstration because it coincided with the first day of the “high-stakes” 10th-grade math testing, which is mandatory for graduation. The students who rallied were also marked absent for any classes they missed.

A junior at Boston Latin School told WBZ-TV that he would like to see less money going to charter schools and more funding going into traditional public schools in the city.

Walsh pointed out that last year’s $1 billion school budget was increased by $13.5 million, but Jackson and other opponents said it simply was not enough to combat inflation.

According to WBUR Public Radio, Jackson said:

“This is the civil rights issue of our time, which is public education, and they are doing the right thing as advocates to ensure that there’s equity across the board.”

Mayor Walsh, however, has accused Jackson of being behind the student protest and added that the councilman was “putting children in harm’s way.”