LA students protest layoffs

March 20, 2009

LOS ANGELES--Hundreds of students from five downtown high schools walked out of class on March 16 to protest teacher layoffs. They marched to the LA Unified School District administration building in response to 8,800 "reduction in force" letters that were delivered on Friday to teachers and other school employees.

The protest was initiated and organized by students at the various campuses, who spread the word through text messages. The rally was spirited and energetic; students held signs and homemade posters to support their teachers and demand a decent education. Chants of "No pink slips!" and "Don't lay off our teachers!" rang out.

Many probationary teachers who received the pink slips last week work at the five high schools; all told, approximately 40 percent of the staffs received notices warning them that they may not have a job in September.

Students spoke out on the steps of the administration building, explaining the negative impact of large class sizes and losing teachers who they trust and who know them well.

One student, Jennifer, said this was her first protest. "It felt good because you're actually not alone protesting," she said. "You're with more people so they will pay attention to you. We all helped each other to make our point."

The actual number of layoffs will be determined by June 30. In the meantime, the union, students and parents are continuing to mobilize and build support for teachers and a just public education.

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