Nearly a thousand of Newark high schoolers walked out of their classes Tuesday to protest budget cuts that include teacher layoffs, school closures and hits to after-school programs.
Students from half a dozen Newark schools walked out of class at noon chanting “Stand up, fight back.” They marched to Rutgers Law School, where the State Assembly was holding hearings on the proposed budget.
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, proposed a $32.8 billion budget that includes an all-time high $8.9 billion for public education in the state.
Newark schools will receive $714 million but the protest organizers don't think that is enough, as it would underfund the district by about $53 million.
"This $53 million is real; students see it in the cutting of clubs and extracurricular activities, sports, teachers and administration," protest organizer Robert Cabanas of the group NJ Communities United told Reuters. "They don't think they should have to see any of those things go."
New Jersey's state government has been in control of Newark schools for the past 18 years.
When the Christie’s budget proposal was unveiled in February, he noted that there were no cuts in individual districts. Christie's office did not respond to calls seeking comment.
When Christie took office in 2010, he cut state aid to schools by $820 million and districts in Newark and Camden were hit heavily with layoffs and closures. Last year, seven schools were shut down in March about 100 teachers and other school personnel were laid off.
Other U.S. cities have also been hit with cuts. Last month, Chicago announced it would close 54 schools by the beginning of the next academic year.