When thousands of students walked out of their classrooms in March to protest Boston Public Schools proposed budget cuts, some officials called them misinformed. Despite their pleas, the school committee ultimately passed the controversial budget, but students vowed not to stop protesting.
“When we did the walk out, some people made it seem like we were ignorant for leaving school,” said Snowden International sophomore Jailyn Lopez, who helped organize the walk-out. “That’s why this time, we’re going into the school.”
Students at more than 40 Boston Public Schools will take part in a “walk-in” Wednesday morning, during which they’ll gather outside their schools and enter together in solidarity.
The movement is part of a national action supported by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a coalition of parents, students, and community groups. Students in more than 80 cities will hold walk-ins to show support for public education.
The Boston Teachers Union helped to coordinate the local movement. Each school will carry out the walk-in differently, but the union’s president, Richard Stutman, said those who participate will highlight concerns over school budgets, the growth of charter schools, and an overall lack of resources in public schools.
“We’re very hopeful we will continue a national drive to focus attention on public schools,” Stutman said. “That might seem nebulous, but we’re at a pivotal moment right now with charter schools and budgetary concerns locally, and we don’t feel like we’re getting a lot of support from local leaders.”
In response to the walk-in, Boston Public Schools issued a statement saying the district appreciates the passion advocates have for education.
“While BPS encourages respectful activism and advocacy, we will closely monitor these events to ensure student safety and a prompt start time for morning classes and valuable instruction,” the district said in the statement. “We support meaningful discussions on the BPS budget process and would like for members of our community to continue engaging with us on these matters.”
Boston’s walk-in comes in the midst of a number of heated education issues. City councilors are debating next year’s school budget, and, at the state level, officials are debating whether to lift the cap on charter schools. Last week, the city released the McKinsey report, a controversial district audit that suggested Boston Public Schools could save up to $85 million each year by closing 40 percent of its schools.
All of the issues are undeniably divisive amongst education advocated. But, above all else, Lopez said the walk-in is meant to show support for the schools.
“We as students cherish our education,” she said. “We’re proving school isn’t just about coming and sitting down and learning what two-plus-two is. It’s all about bonds with teachers and the friends you make. It’s about family.”