The popular conception of high school students in middle-class American suburbia is that they're bored, disaffected, moody, and more interested in cutting class than attending it. Nowhere is this perception more evident than in the culture-defining 1980s films of John Hughes. Remember the scene in Hughes' 1985 classic The Breakfast Club when all the characters got detention for protesting their school's budget cuts and demanding more extracurricular activities? Neither do we--it wasn't in the movie. But if Hughes remade the film today, that's what he might have to write to accurately portray students' feelings.
High school students in New Jersey, the very beating heart of middle-class American suburbia, are demonstrating in the thousands to protest against their state's education cuts. The Economist's Democracy in America explains:
Thousands of high-school students in New Jersey walked out of class yesterday to protest looming school budget cuts that might lay off teachers, increase class sizes, and axe music, art, sports, and extracurricular programmes. The protests were apparently touched off by a Facebook page authored by an 18-year-old college freshman and former New Jersey public-school student. The cuts, meanwhile, are looming because Chris Christie, New Jersey's governor, has mandated 5% budget cuts in state aid to 600 school districts
Let me ask the governor of New Jersey something: what on earth do you want from your state's adolescents? The students at Columbia High School in Maplewood were marching around with signs that read "We love our teachers". This is unacceptable behaviour? You should be handing these kids prizes. I doubt there has ever, in the history of the world, been a more appropriate student protest than this one.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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