After local education budgets were slashed across New Jersey last month, putting after school activities and small class sizes in jeopardy, Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old aspiring actress and college freshman, created a Facebook page that called for students to walk out of classrooms in protest. And yesterday, thousands of them across the state actually followed through!
More than 18,000 people joined the group online, and the Times is calling it "one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years." High schools saw several walkouts and protests during the day, with kids disrupting standardized testing to wave banners reading "We Love Our Teachers," and "We Are The Future;" in Newark, "thousands of high school students... marched past honking cars stuck in midday traffic to fill the steps of City Hall under the watchful gaze of dozens of police officers."
The target of these protests was Republican Governor Christopher J. Christie, who wants to cut $820 million in school aid, and who was also in Newark during the day, but avoided speaking to the gathered crowds of acne-infested ambulatory-hormones. Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary, released a statement: “It is also our firm hope that the 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.”
Most remarkably, it seems that when kids aren't hacking into each others accounts or having their private information sold to the highest bidder, this new Facebook thingamabob can really stir up stuff and things! Lauto, whose "inspiring" message set all this in motion, is thinking about what sort of legacy she's leaving for her younger sister: "I'd love for kids her age and younger to go, 'Okay, we can do that. Anyone can make a Facebook page and then potentially change the world. We can if we really try hard enough.'"