Last Thursday saw a group of students from South Central's Santee Education Complex organize and stage a walkout - protest in support of the Los Angeles teachers who had been on a hunger strike for the previous twenty three days. The hunger strike was in response to the 2500 pink-slips that are being issued by the LAUSD for the 2009 to 2010 school year.
The students marched to the West Adams Preparatory School and the Manual Arts High School where they challenged other kids to join the march. They were often urged on with horn honks from the passing traffic and pedestrians.
There was absolutely no media presence for the march except for this reporter.
The students consistently reemphasized the point that class size increase will severely harm their scholastic opportunities on a day to day basis. The idea that math, science and english are hard enough without the specter of class overcrowding seems to have been the general consensus amongst the kids in the protest.
They also cited that the loss of the long term relationships that many of their teachers had with their families and communities would be painful as well.
The march eventually wore down in the noon day desert heat of South Central LA.
Some of the young scholars made their way to the LAUSD headquarters, where the hunger striker's tents were pitched. There was a public meeting of the LAUSD taking place. Several kids took their concerns into the meeting by abruptly standing up, pulling out their protest signs. and shouting "Shame on you, LAUSD ...Shame on you" !
Superintendent Ramon Cortinez and other members of the board chastised the students who repeated their charge two more times, ( code pink style ) and then peacefully left the assembly. They joined their protesting teachers outside and then participated in a press conference that formally ended the hunger strike for the time being.
At this time there is a probable 50 percent drop out rate among high school students in the Los Angeles school system. The middle school dropout rate for California is probably around 10,000 students per year.
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