High School Student Protests Create Headaches for Some, Hope for Others

student protests in newark
Students protest the corporate charter takeover of Newark Public Schools. Credit: BobBraunsLedger.com . Bob Braun is a long-time journalist in Newark and is following these protests closely on his independent blog.

Recent spontaneous and unprecedented high school student protest movements are causing a growing panic among the wealthy investor class who want to convert much of American education from public, democratic control to corporate investor control for their profits. It is showing that high school students are finding their own voice distinct from just joining in with adult protests.


The Newark Students Union was formed to resist the corporate takeover and charterizing of most of public education in Newark, New Jersey. No matter what excuses are attempted to dismiss this movement, it is real and powerful. Students in Newark are not willing to be widgets produced on an assembly line. They have become the wild card for the carefully laid plans of investors and the corporations they control.

This is a video report of their latest protest that involved over 300 students. Take note that these are very smart, politically astute high school students in a place where no one can argue that these are just brats being put up to this by adults, which has been the oft-repeated criticism.

Their protests began in April and lasted through May of last school year when big plans for transforming Newark to mostly charters were announced after Governor Chris Christie took control of Newark Public Schools and appointed his own superintendent. She immediately laid plans to convert most of Newark’s Public Schools into corporate charter schools. My criticism of this massive corporate charter takeover is in my earlier post HERE, a third post in my series criticizing the misuse of charters at the expense of the poor.

Since long-time education writer Anthony Cody pulled out of foundation-influenced Education Week and started his own independent blog Living in Dialogue, he has reported extensively on these and  other student protests.

You may follow and support these students by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @NewarkStudents .


The high school student protest movement has expanded in Colorado to include students from several high schools in Jefferson County, a suburban area of Denver.

They walked out of school to protest highly restrictive standards about the teaching of U.S. History imposed by the Jefferson County School Board. It is controlled by a slim hyper-conservative majority.

Students correctly see that this is just the first of what will be an increasing process of censoring the teaching of history in their county schools and in the U.S.

Free exploration of ideas vs. training for compliance

At issue here is whether students are allowed to think freely and explore their own ideas. It’s the difference between true education that teaches thinking and training that teaches compliance.

I taught U.S. History and AP U.S. History in public schools for most of my high school teaching years. In that time I encountered earnest conservatives were sometimes distressed by what they saw as a failure to celebrate what has been good and strong in American history. The whole of U.S. history has some ugliness that cannot be avoided, though. And students who are taught to think, rather than just comply, cannot help but see negatives in American history.

In the past several years, investor-owned corporate forces have worked hard to use those concerns for their own ends, which have little to do with patriotism and everything to do with developing compliance to their money-making education schemes.

These student protests will be better understood by true conservative patriots than they will by charter organizations who want a quiet, compliant student population that will be good little widgets going through the charter education assembly line. They hope to make them compliant cogs in the corporate machine later in life.

For those who value true democracy with an educated, informed, and thinking population, these protests are a sign of hope in a country being taken over by narrow corporate interests.

For corporations, however, student protests are not a sign of hope, they are a headache to be relieved. We’ll see what their reaction is next….