On June 11 about 1000 NYC High School students walked out of classrooms chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!” and “The students, united, will never be defeated!”
holding up home made signs and banners protesting a plan to eliminate their free transit passes.
The walkout commenced at noon as students converged at City Hall Park for a rally with both elected officials and transit union members present.
The large swarm of students then marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to Metropolitan Transportation Authorities offices.
Many students like Fernando Matos, 17, a student at Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx, admit that without a free transit pass they would have to transfer to a different school.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has responded to the act.
“If I were them, I'd just think long and hard someday,” he said. “If I didn't pass a test, I'd always go back and wonder, 'Was it that afternoon when I was trying to be cute and be out there and picketing was better than being in class?'”
The decision to end the free rides is in an effort by the Transportation Agency to close the $800 gap in the budget.
Without these passes families could be forced to purchase monthly metrocards. This would cost $1000 a year per child.
“Money which could be spent on books,” says Debbie Officer, a mother of two from Brooklyn.
“I just walked out,” said special education teacher at Banana Kelly High School in the Bronx.
“A lot of families lost their jobs. They don't have the extra income to pay for their children's MetroCards.”
City Council member Letitia James of Brooklyn spoke at the rally, “Mr. Bloomberg, you just don't seem to get it. This is a lesson about civics, Mr. Bloomberg. This is learning.”
A spokesman for the Department of Education announced that any disciplinary action the students might face for cutting class would be up to their principals.