After published reports put the number of New Jersey high school students who staged walkouts today to protest school budget cuts, a spokesman for Gov. Christopher Christie said he hopes students “were motivated by youthful rebellion or spring fever – and not by encouragement from any one-sided view of the current budget crisis in New Jersey.”
“Students belong in the classroom, and we hope all efforts were made to curtail student walkouts,” said Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary. “Students would be better served if they were given a full, impartial understanding of the problems that got us here in the first place and why dramatic action was needed.”
Commissioner of Education Bret Schundler said that “schools should enforce their attendance policies.”
“They should not be permitting students to walk out of class,” Schundler said.
Officially, the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, said they do not support student walkouts.
West Orange High School students met with school officials in advance of their protest and police were there to keep order, according to a Star-Ledger report. “The administration was not meeting with us to support us. They met with us to make sure this was a safe event,” a student told the newspaper. Voters rejected the school budget there last week by a ten point margin.
“Today’s student uprising is a wake-up call to weigh the consequences that the drastic cuts in school aid will have on our children,” said Assemblyman John McKeon, who is also the mayor of West Orange.