One of the great under-reported local stories occurred last Wednesday, June 6th. While the rest of San Diego and the country mulled over the Primary election results, students at Point Loma High School staged a boisterous and energetic walk-out in support of their laid-off teachers.
We at the OB Rag are also guilty of simply being out of the loop on this one – as we also failed to publish anything about this huge and rare occurrence – and we publicly apologize to the students and teachers at Point Loma HS.
As it turns out, either 24 or 25 teachers at the high school received pink slips. A pink slip is a layoff notice to teachers informing them that their contracts would possibly not be renewed come September. And on Wednesday, a number of their fellow teachers wore pink to school. When students found out what the “pink” stood for, they were galvanized into action.
From over a thousand to 3,000 students walked out of their classes that morning right after 9:00. They streamed out of their classes, filling Chatsworth Boulevard and the nearby church grounds, chanting, yelling, whooping, and waving at the passing cars honking in support. A the students congregated on both sides of the street, campus police were augmented by San Diego police.
A couple of local TV stations did cover the action, and picked up quotes of those involved. Junior Stephanie Hernandez told 10 News:
“A lot of our English teachers are leaving and they’re really good teachers and we love them. They have helped us in every way possible, but now we have to help them. We just want the school board to understand that and see that our school is not just any school. We need our teachers to be the school we are today.”
10th grader Irvin Flores explained to Fox 5 News :
“We pretty much ditched class. It’s not good but then it’s not good letting our teachers go either, so we had to fight.”
Special Education teacher Patti Hanan was quoted:
“Almost all of our counselors and many people in the office got pink slips. Our students are showing their support of their teachers being laid off.
Point Loma High School Principal Bobbie Samilson stated:
“We’ve been affected by the budget crisis and our students are very concerned about their teachers.”
Channel 10 reported that, “a few hundred of the protesters broke away from the pack and marched a couple of miles to Correia Middle School, where more teachers are on the chopping block.”
This was confirmed by Fox 5, which reported: “About 300 kids broke away from the group and marched a mile and a half to Correa Middle School. The middle school principal was notified of the mass demonstration and locked the gates, according to students.”
Mainstream Media Allow Rock to Over Shadow Protest by Thousands of Young People
Then what happened next was used by one TV station to over shadow everything else. Here is how they reported it:
As students returned to class, someone threw a rock at a police cruiser, and a San Diego Unified police officer told 10News they suspected the person who threw the rock was a student. Cellphone video obtained by 10News shows a student wearing a pink jacket throwing a rock that shattered a window on the cruiser. As of early Wednesday evening, no one has been arrested in connection with the incident.
Their headline yelled: “Rock Shatters Police Cruiser’s Window During School Protest” and their story had the lede: “A peaceful protest was tarnished Wednesday morning after someone hurled a rock through a police cruiser’s window.”
Fox 5 reported:
As most of the crowd headed back to class, some students started throwing rocks at SDPD patrol cars, authorities said. The students involved were identified through cell phone video and were suspended for their actions, school officials said.
It is so important for young people to be involved in our civic life, and to an old alum of PLHS to see hundreds if not thousands of students from Point Loma High demonstrating in support of their teachers makes me have a warm glow. It is great to see so many taking part in this protest and getting active at my old alma matar. For a TV station then to allow several rocks thrown by a handful to overshadow the protest of many is really an insult to the youth themselves and an insult to the truth.
Editor: If anyone involved in last week’s protest wish to have their side of the story broadcast, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, Lincoln High Students Storm Out of Classes to Protest Teacher Lay-Offs Last Friday, June 8th
Lincoln HS Protest Channel 10 News
At least 100 students at Lincoln High School stormed out of class Friday morning and onto the streets around campus to protest recent teacher layoffs.
San Diego police were at the scene as the upset students rallied in support of 32 of their best teachers, who were among the 1,500 teachers given pink slips by the San Diego Unified School District.
While parents encouraged the students to return to class, many refused and marched down the streets while being escorted by police. The students insisted the reason for the march was about education.
SD Unified officials said the layoffs are devastating and will drive up class sizes, but are necessary due to deep budget cuts by the state.
Rallies to try and save teachers’ jobs have been going on around San Diego for months. While most have been peaceful, a rally at Point Loma High School earlier this week got out of hand after someone — possibly a student — hurled a rock through a police cruiser’s window.
There were no reports of violence at Lincoln High School, though students say they are furious that the teachers they love are being let go.