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Editorial: Recent protests prove Tucson teens' presence

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
September 29, 1999

For the generation known as the "MTV Generation," displays of student activism are a rarity. But the students of the Amphitheater School district have proven that today's youth are able to fight for a worthy cause. And surprisingly, they won.

In two impressive protests, students defiantly informed Amphitheater school officials that they should comply with teachers' demands for a much deserved 5 percent salary increase which they finally earned at last Thursday's school board meeting.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, 1,500 Canyon del Oro students walked out of school in support of increasing teachers' salaries. Three hundred walked the seven miles to the Amphitheater Public Schools district offices and protested.

The Friday before, 250 Amphitheater High School students marched to the district offices in protest.

The students were demanding that Amphi district officials agree to bump up the 3 percent pay raise to a 5 percent raise, a figure that teachers have been demanding for years.

Instead of sitting by and watching their teachers struggle with a district that holds the city record for paying their educators the least, Amphi students put their foot down and marched for their teachers' rights.

In doing so, they proved that they understand the value of teachers, something most Amphi district officials have long not understood.

"Paying teachers a low salary is disrespectful to them, and to us," said Canyon del Oro sophomore Todd Millikin.

"Teachers should be getting raises," CDO sophomore Lindsay Partridge said. "They work hard for us, and they're getting, like, jack."

An MTV protest, but a protest nonetheless.

While it is unclear how much influence the students' protests had in the school board's unanimous decision to give the teachers the demanded salary increase, the students' presence was undoubtedly felt.

They even got the attention of Amphi Superintendent Robert Smith.

"In reality, there's only so much money in the budget," Smith told the students on Friday. They were, however, unsatisfied with his statement and refused to get on buses waiting to take them back to school.

The students gave their teachers much-needed support in facing many district officials who were previously unrelenting. A week of teacher sick-outs prompted many officials to make the ridiculous claim that teachers were "abandoning" their students.

For a generation whose attitudes toward education in general are often less than enthusiastic, these students are an example to all youth who have not attempted to fight for a worthwhile cause.

It often seems that this generation does not know the meaning of the word activism, that "MTV" and "Loveline" are the only mediums today's youth understand.

But the fact that Amphi students were aware of and in support of their teachers' struggle sets them apart from the stereotypical teenagers who do not seem to understand or care about the plight of their teachers. But activism has not died, and, perhaps thanks to the efforts of the students, their teachers were granted their 5 percent increase.

Even a college campus can learn from the activism of younger students who clearly value their educators. The activism of the Amphi student protesters is truly admirable.

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