Thousands of New Jersey high school students participated in a walkout today in protest of recent education cuts — all because of a call to action on Facebook.
The event was organized by 18-year-old Michelle Ryan Lauto — a Pace University student who once attended high school in New Jersey. Lauto decided to take action after Governor Chris Christie announced that he would be cutting $820 million in educational funding for next year, according to the Hartford Courant.
Nearly 15,000 students RSVP’d “Yes” via Facebook, but we’re not sure how many actually participated — still, sources like The Star Ledger report that students from several schools joined in the walkout.
According to students who took part in the protest, it was largely organized via social networking efforts — texts, MySpace and, of course, the original Facebook Event. Lauto has been tweeting about the walkout all day, expressing her joy at the turnout and excitement about the barrage of interview requests she has received from the media. In fact, we’re currently waiting on comment from Lauto, who — last she e-mailed us — was preparing to meet a camera crew at her house.
Indeed, this Facebook-born movement has garnered a lot of attention. Still, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the social networking site used to orchestrate a large-scale, politically driven event: Minnesota’s governor conducted a town hall via Facebook recently.
It’s good to see kids using social media in an attempt to do something positive, especially when their compatriots in other states are getting negative press for cobbling together violent flash mobs via Twitter and MySpace. It remains to be seen what kind of impact — if any — this SM-fueled protest has on educational funding. We’ll keep you posted should it lead to any measurable action.