Estimates for yesterday's student walkout, protesting the proposed Student MetroCard elimination, vary: The AP says 1,000 showed up while the Daily News says it was closer to 400. Still, the students, who chanted "This is what democracy looks like," were cheered on by a few politicians, like State Senator Pedro Espada (D-Bronx), who was outside the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology in the Bronx; the News reports that he said, "You have my pledge ... we will make this a priority."
The "priority" would be how to fund the Student Metrocard program, which the MTA suggests phasing out to deal with its $800 million budget shortfall. Students explained why they needed the free Student MetroCards, telling NY1, "We all came out because we can't make it without our MetroCards. We cannot afford it, we cannot pay. Some of us are on food stamps," and "A lot of us don't live around here and this school helps us a lot because we don't have good schools around us."
Public Advocate Bill deBlasio, who supports keeping the program, was invited to speak at the rally at City Hall (students from high schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens converged there) but didn't attend because he doesn't condone kids cutting school. Yet one student told the News, "I'm not worried about getting in too much trouble from the school. I told my teachers what we were doing today, and most of them were in support of it." Another wondered, "I don't know why they want to cut the metrocards now, when we're in a recession and times are so tough on everyone."