Wisconsin Students Planning School Walkout to Protest End of Collective Bargaining

Posted by Liz Dwyer

wisconsin.unite
Thanks to a controversial legislative maneuver, Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining for his public employees passed the state senate Wednesday night. Now, in a stunning show of solidarity with their teachers—who, as union members, now have no bargaining rights—Wisconsin's high school students are planning a grassroots school walkout, and they want to take their protest national.

Wisconsin Students in Solidarity is asking for the nationwide walkout to happen this Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. local time. Less than 12 hours after being formed, the Facebook event, Nationwide Student Walkout, has almost 2,000 "attendees" from across the country and student-led copycat groups and events are springing up on the social media hub.

In an email, the coordinator Jesse Banks, a senior at Wisconsin's Madison East High School said the group is calling for national participation

not only to send a unified student message in support of teachers and schools, but again to use this as an opportunity to educate students around the nation on the attacks on public education that are occurring in Wisconsin. There are students everywhere who care about these issues and we want to encourage them to make their voices heard, to get active and get involved.

Banks said the Wisconsin protests have had a "strong high school presence" over the past several weeks. Apparently, the idea for the walkout "came out of an entirely student-run meeting." Given the enormity of the decision made by the Wisconsin legislature, the students, "wanted to do something that added visibility to how the attacks on unions and schools are harmful to kids."

Banks acknowledged that some student participants "will be better informed than others, just as some adults are better informed than others." To make the walkout educational, the students are also holding a teach-in on the Library Mall in downtown Madison to discuss the "effects of collective bargaining elimination on public education, as well as the proposed education cuts in the Biennial Budget."

With these student-led protest efforts underway, it's a little harder to make the case that teens are apathetic and don't care about social issues. Whether you agree with their decision to walkout or not, this is democracy and free speech in action.

photo via Steve Alfaro/Wisconsin Students in Solidarity Facebook Page