Newark students walk out of school, take City Hall

Yesterday students from across the state of New Jersey walked out of their classes and descended upon Newark to protest Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s education budget cuts.

The walkout and protest grew organically from the online efforts of Michelle Ryan Lauto, a Pace University freshman who attended high school in New Jersey, who used Facebook to propose the action. Students then used these same online tools to organize their own individual schools and collaborate on strategy:

They also used Facebook to trade advice on contacting newspapers and television stations to publicize their rallies, while Lauto logged on to urge students to keep their protests peaceful.

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In Newark, students also turned to Twitter and text messaging to coordinate a walkout of thousands of students at schools across the state’s largest city.

The incredible organizing effort impressed some school board members:

Newly minted school board member Shavar Jeffries was on hand to support the students’ protest.

“I’m very proud of our kids for protesting in a peaceful, disciplined way,” he said adding that while the students were enthusiastic they maintained order. “They’re organized, they’re disciplined, they’re beautiful.”

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School board member Nakia White also expressed her admiration.

“I think the social activism among our youth is incredible,” White said. “They’re absolutely defying the myth of apathy and not caring, and they’re standing up for what they believe in. They believe in education.”

Throughout the country Millennials have been self-organizing using online and mobile tools, from the student protests in California, the immigration protests in Arizona, and yesterday in New Jersey. As Republican policies hit young Americans harder the efforts will only increase. This level of engagement is a positive sign for the Democratic Party, both because of the energy and organizing as well as the further inclination toward the Democrats in reaction to these Republican policies. Young voter enthusiasm may not be the problem for Democrats that some say it is.