Video: West Seattle students join nationwide protest

Our coverage of Saturday’s Town Hall in West Seattle, featuring our area’s three state legislators, includes Rep. Eileen Cody‘s observation that she is somewhat surprised our state’s budget crisis isn’t drawing more demonstrations of concern. Are protests passé? Not necessarily – in fact, one small demonstration had happened in West Seattle hours earlier, in support of another hot issue – and the demonstrators (photo above) were middle schoolers. The story, with video including the young protesters’ explanations, after the jump:

As part of the uproar over the anti-collective-bargaining legislation in Wisconsin, there was a call for students nationwide to walk out of their classes at 2 pm local (anywhere) time on Friday afternoon.

Here in Seattle, there was no evidence of mass demonstrations – but we did learn of one planned protest. Mom Katie Hendricks e-mailed to let WSB know that her daughter Skyler, who had taken an interest in the Wisconsin events and even attended a recent rally in Olympia, planned to participate, along with any friends/classmates who were interested. (And yes, Katie says they asked teachers’ permission.)

With Katie, we waited outside Denny International Middle School at 2 pm Friday to see what would happen. Here’s what we saw, and what we heard from several of the students who answered our “what are you doing and why?” question, starting with Skyler, and ending with part of what Katie told them after they spoke:

After we talked with the students, they took pieces of orange tape to place over their mouths (top photo), writing “If you can read this, thank a teacher” on the tape. As mom Katie had put it in her original note, “It’s just a small effort but I’m very excited whenever there’s an opportunity like this that allows our kids to learn to be freethinkers, and to stand up and be a voice for something they believe in.” P.S. This writer tracked walkouts nationwide and had counted 20 states.

25 Replies to "Video: West Seattle students join nationwide protest"

  • marty March 13, 2011 (9:56 am)

    I’ll bet Justin Bieber told them to do it!!

    • WSB March 13, 2011 (10:02 am)

      Actually, no. Not so sure he gets involved in U.S. politics (or politics in his home country, for that matter). The only even remotely recognizable name I have seen in connection with this is Michael Moore. – TR

  • JanS March 13, 2011 (10:04 am)

    Marty..not all kids are that superficial….

  • seewhatsealionsstart March 13, 2011 (10:30 am)

    Thank you to the young people for caring and standing up for what you think and believe. Fantastic they have support of the adults among them who encourage them to demonstrate. Well done, I applaud you all!

  • lior avishay March 13, 2011 (12:19 pm)

    Granada Hills Charter High school in Granda Hills California, announced, in response to students call for walkout, that students will be suspended and “ring leaders’ will be expelled, out of fear walkout did not take place.
    SHAME ON GHCH director,Mr.Brian Bauer for not letting the students support their teachers!!!!
    And using fear tactics.

  • marty March 13, 2011 (12:57 pm)

    JanS…MOST kids that age are.

  • madison March 13, 2011 (1:25 pm)

    I am one of the kids in the video and just so you know i don’t think any of us even like Justin Bieber. We did this because we thought it was unfair to wisconsin and we had to take a stand. The teachers encouraged it. And thought that the cause was right to fight for and thought that every kid could make a difference when we are in numbers together. More students walked out that didn’t want to get interviewed these were just me and my friends. :)

  • Marta MacKenzie March 13, 2011 (1:36 pm)

    I am so proud of these young people. One of them happens to be my Grand-daughter Zoe MacKenzie Hilgedick. Way to go Zoe.

  • Dale March 13, 2011 (1:44 pm)

    Can’t expect the administration to be on the side of the students, teachers, and workers.

  • Jeff Case March 13, 2011 (1:48 pm)

    Thanks, Skyler and Katie.

  • seewhatsealionsstart March 13, 2011 (2:59 pm)

    Wow Marty, do you have anything nice, supportive, un-oppressive in that mind of yours? If so, write that.
    I am sorry you are having difficulty showing respect towards young people. I find them to be interesting, creative, engaged in many ways in all respects whether about their music, friends, community, government, interests, etc.
    I also find they show and share their vast array of thoughts in the company of relaxed interested adults. Hmmm

    To you young people, please know you are respected by many.

  • Melinda March 13, 2011 (3:42 pm)

    I believe there are many thoughtful middle school students who are aware of and concerned with current events. To denigrate them as superficial, exposes your lack of real communication with students of this age. As a teacher and a parent of three Denny grads, one with a PhD in BioEngineering, another with a Masters in GeoPhysics and the third with a BA in Business(living in Wisconsin), I can attest to the excellent education they received at Denny. This conversation demonstrates the need to restore the teaching of civics and labor history.

  • Elikapeka March 13, 2011 (4:19 pm)

    I’m very impressed by these young people. Congratulations for learning about the issue and taking a stand. If more adults would do that, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now.

  • Blinkyjoe March 13, 2011 (8:15 pm)

    Kids, homework assignment: Watch this and explain its flawed logic.

  • WS fan March 13, 2011 (10:15 pm)

    Kids…. So glad you are involved, but get the facts before you take a position. It’s not what you think… you are being misled…. look into all the facts and look at all discussions — pro and con…. Yes you can make a difference but you need to know what you are talking about! You are just parrotting what you have read/ heard/seen. Be brave and research all angles before forming an opinion. There is a reason that folks over the age of 40 have a different view!!!! It’s usually because through experience they have found that what’s said on the surface doesn’t hold up when you research what’s underneath!!!
    Take care…. Glad you are involved…. GET MORE involved and do some research!!!

  • datamuse March 13, 2011 (10:26 pm)

    Might help if you cited some facts yourself, WS fan.
    But what do I know, I’m not over 40.

  • kootchman March 14, 2011 (1:09 am)

    Protest away….soon enough they will join the rest of the working world and wonder how can a ferry deckhand can knockdown 180 grand a year, pay not a cent into their health plan and still insist they are fair work rules. The education they received is from the same self interested public employee unions that have decimated state budgets from one end of this country to the other. More sheep to be shorn… in the pipeline.

  • Gary March 14, 2011 (10:38 am)

    Like the girl said, “the teachers encouraged us”. The teachers are just using these kids to push their own agenda.

  • OP March 14, 2011 (12:26 pm)

    Kids, do yourselves a favor: Research the topic on BOTH sides before automatically subscribing to the teachers’ union side. You might learn that those WI teachers should actually be thanking the governor for saving their jobs instead of buying into the weak-as-hell argument that their CBA “rights” were being taken away when, in fact, the changes are relatively modest yet financially meaningful. In short, you’re foolishly buying a big load teachers’ union rhetorical hullabaloo.

    So, as it stands now, keep the tape over your mouths because you don’t know what you’re talking about or what you’re protesting.

  • SeattleDad March 14, 2011 (9:55 pm)

    OP, it’s not just a Wisconsin teacher union issue. Over 100,000 people demonstrated in Madison last Saturday, including farmers, police officers, and plenty of non-unionized workers. Walker did not save anyone’s job. His claim that stripping away collective bargaining is an attempt to reduce the budget gap is flawed. He will be lucky if he survives a recall next year.

    WS Fan, plenty of people over 40 support the protesters in Wisconsin (and a good number of the WI protesters are over 40 themselves.)

    I am tired of bitter online readers assuming that kids are not capable of understanding complex issues.

  • B March 14, 2011 (11:03 pm)

    Kids, do yourself a favor and never believe when someone tells you they’re doing you a “favor” and “saving your jobs” when they take away your rights. And OP, please back up your claim that removing bargaining rights (which is what was done) and laying off teachers is saving teacher jobs. Especially when the republican governor was caught on tape telling his oligarchical overlord his plan to bust unions. Right after he made a corporate tax cut.

  • B March 14, 2011 (11:04 pm)

    Gary – the teacher’s agenda is that of helping students. If you don’t like it, you’re free to accept a wage cut and become a teacher.

  • Madison March 15, 2011 (7:48 am)

    Gary- we decided we wanted to do this we told the teachers and they thought it was great that we got involved and op that was our opinion it doesn’t have to be yours

  • OP March 15, 2011 (9:04 am)

    B: A contract is not a “right”. To paraphrase “The Princess Bride”, you defend-the-unions-at-all-costs apologists keep using this word, but I do not think it means what you think it means. More importantly, only a portion of the agreement to negotiate bennies and pension was “taken away”, not wages. And big whoop, the governor wants to bust gov’t teet-suckling unions. Yawn.

    And it’s saving their jobs because otherwise he was left with no other choice BUT to fire them.

  • HungryKids March 15, 2011 (5:42 pm)

    There were two good articles in The Economist news magazine on January 8, which identified the issues that public employees’ unions currently face worldwide. Three major impacts of public sector unions – wage differentials have been suppressed, excellent benefits have been negotiated and underperforming workers are protected from being sacked. Lower level workers are better paid than in the private sector while higher-level workers are worse paid – this makes it difficult to attract high performers and to raise standards. Governments tend to give their workers light workloads and generous pensions in lieu of higher wages – this has resulted in an epidemic of early retirement and unfunded pension liabilities of as much as $50 trillion (amongst the 50 US states). Unions have made it almost impossible to sack incompetent workers – the Los Angeles school district spent $3.5 million trying to get rid of seven of its 33,000 teachers and succeeded with only five.

    It is almost inevitable that with the budget pressures governments are facing that the union relationships will soon have to change significantly. Is there a more constructive way to do it than what is going on in Wisconsin? Is there more to the story than what the middle school students seem to understand at this point? Will the students’ interest have been raised to the point that they take the time to look in to these issues in greater depth? I hope the answer to all of these questions turns out to be yes, but only time will tell.

    I am glad the students have already taken more of an interest in current affairs than I can remember having done when I was in middle school. Hats off to you and your friends, Skyler!

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