- Posted by Guest Author
- On March 23, 2016
- 3 Comments
By Sam Draisen
On Monday March 7th, about 3,500 middle and high school students, including me, walked out of school to protest the proposed budget cuts for the Boston Public Schools. At my school specifically, Boston Latin Academy, $500,000 was going to be cut from next year’s budget. For my school, this was particularly rough, because we don’t have that much funding to begin with. Without that $500,000, we were going to lose the entire Arabic language program, the supply budget (my school would actually have no money for paper and pens), and teachers from Humanities, Arts and Math. All in all, five or six teachers would lose their jobs. All the other high schools were losing teachers and programs too.
At 11:30 a.m., we walked out. Our headmaster stood on the front steps clapping and congratulating us for being so outspoken on behalf of our school. A bunch of my friends who go to Boston Latin School were told if they left they would get a demerit and a detention. I am glad that my school was much more supportive of our activism.
I traveled with a bunch of my friends on a bus and then a train to the State House. Once we got to the State House, the entire group of 3,500 students started chanting along the lines of “Don’t Cut My Future.” After we finished chanting a group of students including me went into the State House and the rest went to Faneuil Hall to see the Mayor speak.
Once everyone got inside the State House we went into Gardner Auditorium. In there, we heard various testimonies to the Joint Committee on Education led by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, including some testimony by students. In the middle of the meeting, several of my friends and I left to meet with our state reps and state senators. The first person I went to visit was Representative Ed Coppinger. He wasn’t there, so I left my information with an aide. Next, I went down to Senator Mike Rush’s office. At first when I went in, he wasn’t there, but when I was about to leave, he walked in. He told me to follow him to his office so he could give me a couple of pens. (This was good because my school wouldn’t have any.)
Inside his office, he asked me why I had come. I told him that I wanted to talk to him about the budget cuts and to hear what he thought about them. He told me that he was trying, although about what he didn’t exactly specify, and that he was trying to keep the charter cap. Keeping the charter cap is important because for every student that moves over to a charter school, more funding is taken away from public schools.
Although I could not go, many of my friends and other students testified that night before the Boston School Committee. Our actions seemed to make a difference, because at the end of that week, we found out that many of the cuts would be restored. We are waiting to find out the second draft of the school budget for next year. I am impressed by the actions of all of my fellow students, but I am still worried about the amount of money my school district will have next year.