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November 30, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Garfield students walk out to protest education cuts

Students from Seattle's Garfield High School marched to city hall early this afternoon to protest cuts to education. (Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times)

Hundreds of students from Seattle’s Garfield High School walked out of classes this afternoon to protest state budget cuts to education.

The students began their walk to City Hall at 12:30 p.m. to “tell the world that we are fed up with the lack of funding for education,” according to a statement sent by protest organizer Mathis Watson before the march.

“For too long, this state’s budget has been balanced on the backs of its students,” Watson wrote. “We are the people who have been affected most by these cuts, and we are showing that we care.”

The protest is meant to rally opposition to more education cuts and insert a student voice into the discussion as state lawmakers meet in Olympia to close a $2 billion budget shortfall.

At City Hall today, the students plan to meet up with students from West Seattle and Nathan Hale high schools, who also walked out. They have a meeting scheduled with Mayor Mike McGinn, although they explained their problem is not with him, but with state lawmakers.

Amid chants of “no more cuts,” 16-year-old junior Jared Moore explained the point of the walkout.

“Our goal is to broadcast a message to Seattle and to Washington state that education is an inherent right and reducing the budget for education not only harms us but harms future generations.”

Jessica Markowitz, also a 16-year-old junior, talked about cuts already in place in summer and night school. This afternoon, she is missing Spanish IV, she said, explaining that the main point wasn’t to skip class but to make a greater point.

“They’re impacting our education and our future,” she said.

Seattle Public Schools has been forced to cut $80 million from its operating budget over the past three years because of state action, School Board member Michael DeBell said at a recent finance- committee meeting. Another $20 million is expected to be cut from next year’s budget.

The state Supreme Court is currently considering a lawsuit that alleges that state Legislature is failing to fulfill its constitutionally-obligated duty to fund basic education. A decision is expected soon.

Comments | More in Education, General news, Government | Topics: budget cuts, Garfield High School, Olympia

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