Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Long Beach Student Walkouts Continue
Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

On Monday, roughly 2,000 Long Beach students participated in day-long walkouts in protest of draconian immigration law changes being proposed in Congress. Students marched to three congregation centers: Houghton Park, Cesar Chavez Park and the Long Beach Civic Center Plaza. The march down Pacific Avenue to the Civic Center stretched at least six or seven blocks, with banners, flags and signs.

According to a jointly prepared police and school district press relesases, students came from seven Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) high schools: Millikan, Wilson, Jordan, Renaissance, Cabrillo, Poly and Lakewood. They were joined by students from Mayfair and Paramount high schools as well, as well as by a scattering of Long Beach middle school students.

Traffic was "significantly impacted" according to police, who deployed approximately 400 officers in response, activating the SWAT team, deploying detectives, and mobilizing over eighty off-duty officers. According to the LBPD/LAUSD:
In response to the protest activities, the City of Long Beach activated its Emergency Operations Center. Representatives from various city departments, the Long Beach Unified School District, and the California Highway Patrol worked under a unified command to coordinate citywide resources and ensure the safety of the students and the community.
Walkouts continued Tuesday, according to LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou. "Today we have had as many as 1000 total, including a handful of students from a few middle schools as well," he said. These included roughly several hundred combined from Wilson, Poly & Cabrillo, roughly 120 from Millikan, 50 from Lakewood and 150 from Jordan, according to a more detailed report from LBreport.com. Over 100 students reportedly left Hill Middle School, while most other Middle School walk-outs numbered between 20-30 or less.

On Tuesday, LBUSD drafted a letter to parents, stating:
When societal or political issues arise in our community, our state, or our nation, we encourage students to voice their concerns and participate in appropriate classroom discussion about these events. We discourage activities that jeopardize the safety of students or interrupt the educational process.

It is important to remember that there are consequences when a student leaves class or campus without permission. Consequences will be determined consistent with school practice based upon a student’s involvement and behavior.

I hope you will stress to your children the importance of remaining on campus and expressing their opinions in a safe and productive manner.
Yet, a substantial body of pedagogical theory stresses the importance of engaging students in the world around them. When students take the initiative to engage the world without teachers having to prod them, there could be smarter ways for schools to react, and further their education, than trying to quickly sedate them again.

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