“You’re not present in our classrooms, nor do you sit in our seats, who are you to decide who can and cannot teach?”
On Thursday, May 1st, I learned that teachers were being laid off at New Brunswick High School in New Jersey. I came across a photo of this flyer:
Students shared that they were not told the reason why these teachers were being laid off, just simply that they weren’t tenured. One of my students also told me that administration told them that they didn’t have to tell them why they were being laid off.” Even further, one of my students shared that, “Although I’m not doing well in his class, that’s on me. He challenges us and has high expectations of all of us. He makes me feel like I’m being prepared for college. It makes no sense for him to be laid off.”
The following day, Friday, May 2nd, students wore red in support of their teachers and had a planned walk-out. Yet, their estimated 100 student walk-out was cut short when their school was immediately put on lock-down for about twenty minutes the second it was clear what was happening. Teachers were ordered to lock their doors so that students who were already out in the hallway had no where to go. I was told that the students who were caught in the hallway are now being faced with potential suspension, and may no longer be allowed to attend prom.
From an article written by New Brunswick Today, one student shared that “It was a protest that was stopped by administration,” said one student who posted on New Brunswick Today’s Facebook page. “It was to help teachers keep their jobs because we believe they are being fired with no good reason.” Their superintendent, Richard Kaplan, stated to NBT, “We did go into a lockdown. About a hundred youngsters… decided to leave their classes and walk through the hall in a disruptive manner.”
Yet, this type of intimidation has not stopped students. Today students marched in their community to have their concerns and voices heard. One student who helped organize the march posted, “[Superintendent] Kaplan calls us “youngsters” in the paper believing we’re not serious. We must prove him wrong. Who will march with me to support our teachers?”
Although the turnout wasn’t as big as the students hoped, they still think it was a good, empowering march. They shared that there’s a lot of work to do, but will continue moving forward to fight for their teachers. Just about an hour ago they asked on their Facebook:
“Just a thought….. All of my supporters for change in the new Brunswick high school…. Kaplan wants to lay off teachers that are being paid with tax payers money…. What is his plans for that money that would come from not paying those teachers? Where would that money be going because our performing arts clubs aren’t as funded as others such as sports? Just a thought what happened to the money that was freed up after firing amazing teachers last year??”
Incredibly proud of these courageous students for the work they are doing, and the brave steps they are taking to still fight back regardless of harsh intimidation from administration. It’s exciting to see these students joining the student movement across the country to stand up for
what they know as right–their education, their teachers, and most importantly, themselves. It’s been inspiring to see high school students such as the Philadelphia Student Union, Newark Students Union,
Portland Student Union, Providence Student Union, Chicago Student Union, and all of the alike take action these past couple years, so seeing local students (about 5 minutes outside of Rutgers University) taking action too…is indescribable. Excited to see the student power they build, and will continue to keep everyone posted as much as I can.