Students Walk Out Of School To Demand More Money For Schools, Alaska

Students Walk Out Of School To Demand More Money For Schools, Alaska

Students from all over the state walked out of school on Thursday, April 24, 2019, to demand that the legislature move on a plan to give schools more money. Students from Mt. Edgecumbe High School and Sitka High School protested in the parking lots after the governor vetoed a bill that would have given public schools more state funds.

Around 100 Sitka High School students walked out of the building just after 11 a.m. and gathered around the front door.

President of the student body Edward Richards spoke to them:

“Unfortunately, those at the very top cannot hear us,” Richards said. “Students like us and hundreds of others who are walking out of their schools across Alaska know that our schools are in trouble.” “We told the legislature and those in power that our programs will be cut, class sizes will go through the roof, and opportunities will disappear if the base student allocation isn’t raised.” But it looks like words aren’t enough.”

Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoed Senate Bill 140 in the middle of March. It was the first major raise to the base student allocation (BSA) in years that came from both parties. Then, with only one vote, the state assembly failed to override the veto.

Richards told KCAW that the Alaska Legislature had not met its constitutional duty to properly fund schools by failing to override the veto.

“I will say that I think we are lucky to have such a helpful community around our school.” Still, Richards said, “Some schools in the country have to deal with asbestos and black mold in their buildings.” “That’s just unsafe, so you can’t even say it’s not good enough.”

Earlier this year, students went to Juneau to ask the lawmakers to give them more money. One of them was Jack Wolfe, a junior.

Wolfe said, “While I was there, my voice was sometimes heard and sometimes not heard, and I was just repeating myself over and over again.” “And the hope is that this statewide walkout will make our voices heard as kids from Utqiagvik to Thorne Bay all over the state.”

About a hundred other students were gathered in the parking lot of Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Alaska’s state-run private school, across the O’Connell Bridge from Sitka. Graden Baker, a student, held a sign made of cardboard that said “Kids, not cuts.” Baker is afraid that classes like EMT certification and welding will be cut.

Baker said, “If we lose this funding, those classes might have to stop, and that will ruin my future and how I’m going to live my life.” Gov. Dunleavy, I’d like to ask you to please not do this.

Junior Gale McCrary held up a sign with the words “Don’t cut my future” and a picture of scissors a few feet away. There was a protest today by McCrary, who is from the village of Noorvik.

McCrary said, “Many of us came to Mt. Edgecumbe because we wanted to get a better education than we could get in our home village.” “I think it’s very important that Mt. Edgecumbe and all public schools have enough money to give kids what they need.”

McCrary said that SB 140 would let the school keep its teachers and buy much-needed materials. To make his point, he pointed to the sea of cardboard signs.

“There are black lines around the letters, but they aren’t colored in,” McCrary said. “That struck me as very strange, because when I was making the signs for this protest, I was using markers, which aren’t made anymore.”

When he got back to Sitka High, Edward Richards told his friends that the walkout should not be the end of their work to organize, but the start.

He said, “Let the statement of solidarity go ahead and move the conversation along.” “Let’s set the record straight: Alaskan students want to learn and are ready to fight for it.”

Students in Sitka and across the state put away their signs and went back to class after forty minutes. That’s how many votes were needed to defeat the governor’s veto.

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