From The New York Times:

It was a silent call to arms: an easy-to-overlook message urging New Jersey students to take a stand against the budget cuts that threaten class sizes and choices as well as after-school activities. But some 18,000 students accepted the invitation posted last month on Facebook, the social media site better known for publicizing parties and sporting events. And on Tuesday many of them — and many others — walked out of class in one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years.

Michelle Ryan Lauto, 18, a college freshman, joined students who walked out of High Tech High School in Bergen County. It was Ms. Lauto’s Facebook message urging students to take a stand against budget cuts that led to the protests around the state. “All I did was make a Facebook page,” she said. “Anyone who has an opinion could do that and have their opinion heard.”

The largest turnout was in Newark, where thousands of students from various high schools converged on City Hall.

The protest disrupted classroom routines and standardized testing in some of the state’s biggest and best-known school districts, offering a real-life civics lesson that unfolded on lawns, sidewalks, parking lots and football fields.

The mass walkouts were inspired by Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old aspiring actress and a college freshman, and came a week after voters rejected 58 percent of school district budgets put to a vote across the state (not all districts have a direct budget vote). Read the rest of this entry »

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