Students who oppose the curriculum changes do so primarily on two grounds: First, they argue that specialized courses are essential to their educations and
future capacity to find work, and second, they believe that students should be consulted about decisions that affect public education.
Leaders of Falcone's Centro de Estudiantes planned the takeover with student representatives across the city in a group called the Corriente Educativa de
Base (CEB). Student leaders stay in touch via text messages, phone calls, and a CEB Facebook group. They also meet regularly to plan next steps.
"Communication's not hard," said Gabriel Lopes, president of the Centro de Estudiantes at Juan Bautista Alberdi. "We all know each other, anyway." Though
rare in the rest of the country, school takeovers are fairly common in Buenos Aires, and Gabriel has participated in four takeovers in the past three
School employees across the city continue to receive their salaries during the takeovers. Students at some schools prevent all authorities from entering
the building, but Falcone teachers and administrators are allowed inside. They often lean over the second and third floor balconies to watch what might,
depending on the moment, look like a vibrant political protest or a giant slumber party. They might see students drafting letters to the Minister of
Education, playing Twister, sweeping the floor, eating lunch, giving television interviews (students at one school wouldn't let a reporter enter because,
as they put it, "we haven't developed our media strategy"), reading, dancing, or running workshops for their peers.
Many of these students' parents were raised during the brutal military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976-83. Gabriel said that his mom supports
his activism, but she, like many of her generation, grew up with the warning no te metas -- don't get involved. The school takeover going on right
now was timed to coincide with the anniversary of a night in 1976 when seven high school students were disappeared by the dictatorship. Gabriel and his mom
both know what would have happened to a student leader like him back then. Yet at the meeting at Falcone the night the takeovers began, parents advocated
for their children's right to be heard, challenging the ministry representative head-on.
"It's not like the students came here to screw around," one parent insisted. "They're protesting, debating. This is an example of citizenship and
The tradition of school takeovers reflects an approach to citizenship students raised in post-dictatorship Argentina have observed their whole lives. Jason
Beech, director of the School of Education at San Andrés University in Buenos Aires, believes the takeovers are "at least in part a reflection of what
happens in Argentine society." When people want to change something, he said, usually "they don't go and talk to a senator or other government official.
Instead, they occupy a street and do some kind of protest that makes a lot of noise or will be picked up by the media. The students are learning about how
politics function in Argentina, and this is how it is."