Youth in Action, March-April 2019

From the March-April 2019 issue of News & Letters

by Buddy Bell

Dozens of high school students in Oakland, Calif., walked out of class on three occasions in February to support teachers’ demands for inflation-neutral wages and smaller class sizes, as well as to try and stave off school closures. Alex Arriola, a senior at Oakland Technical High School, told ABC: “We are marching because we are hoping maybe the student-organized march will make them do something.” After negotiations with the school district failed and a strike was triggered, students organized their own solidarity march down Broadway on Feb. 25. One large banner said, “Oakland Students Love Teachers.”

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Thousands of school students protest across Australia on Nov. 30, 2018, in “Strike 4 Climate Action” in defiance of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s warning and admonishment to be “less active.” Photo: www.facebook.com/lifeofactions.

While elementary, middle, and high school students in Australia, Europe and North America continue to strike from school each Friday as part of the global movement Strike 4 Climate Action, an environment minister in Belgium has had to resign. After telling a group of her supporters that Belgian security forces knew the strikes were being engineered behind the scenes, she later was forced to admit this was bluster. The cascading strikes are apparently spontaneous, though presumably the very youngest strikers are supported by their parents. A Strike 4 Climate Action rally in London on Feb. 15 drew 5,000 participants, while another in Paris on Feb. 22 drew at least 6,000.

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In Vancouver, over 200 high-school students held a walkout to protest an oil pipeline which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta over the Rocky Mountains. Ta’kaiya Blaney, 17, of the Coast Salish First Nation told Canada’s National Observer she was motivated to help organize the walkout “to ensure that the following seven generations have access to clean water and healthy air….I think that youth also bring an interesting energy to the movement. We’re very optimistic. We’re very ambitious. We’re dreamers and we bring a lot of ideas to the table.”

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Classes at Gandaki Medical College in Pokhara, Nepal, did not take place on Jan. 31, when students padlocked the administration office and classrooms, then held a protest at the town’s central intersection. The students claimed administrators held their tuition deposits, then tried to charge extra unauthorized fees not approved by the Institute of Medicine. If they refused or were unable to pay the extra fee, students said they were prevented from registering to take their exams.

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