Eau Claire students walk out in protest of budget bill - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATED: Eau Claire students walk out in protest of budget bill


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Public school students make a statement in support of their teachers. School walkouts happened at a number of high schools across the state Wednesday, including at Eau Claire Memorial and North.

At Memorial High School, hundreds of students say they walked out of class in support of their education.

Their signs read: "Protect our teachers" and "Scott Walker: Who taught you?"

"We feel very strongly about our school and about the education that we receive here," says Memorial student Tyler. "We would like to ensure that our teachers maintain their benefits that have been reserved for them over these past years."

Governor Walker's budget proposal would change those benefits to, he says, help fix the state budget and avoid layoffs. Under his plan, state employees would contribute more for their health care coverage and retirement plans.

"With teachers' wages as low as they are compared to the job that they have, I don't think that most teachers have $500 to $600 lying around every month," says junior Patrick.

Students march on, saying those health care and retirement incentives attract better teachers, improving their education.

"In the private sector, many of them are very competent and great people that can find jobs anywhere and get paid a salary much very larger than what they're receiving currently," Tyler says.

School administrators knew about the walkout ahead of time.

"We're not going to prevent students from moving out and about if they truly, truly want to," says principal David Oldenberg. "I think a spontaneous, civil event--I wouldn't call it disobedience--is an opportunity to have their voice heard and is a teachable moment as well."

Still, every student who marched will have an "unexcused absence."

"I think that having the rest of Wisconsin see that Eau Claire is in step with the public opinion of this bill is much more important than my unexcused absence for third hour," Patrick says.

No incidents were reported at Memorial Wednesday.

Across town at North High School, hours later, students also walk out in support of their teachers.  Around 1:30 this afternoon, students carrying signs reading: "kill the bill" marched outside, making their way down to North Crossing.

"Our teachers do a lot of hard work, and we don't agree with this, and the instability of all of this, this whole bill, and the fact that they have worked so hard to get to where they're at, and they will have a lot taken away from them if it's signed," says North High School Sophomore Alexis Amenson.

Students say text messages and word of mouth helped organize the march.


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Hundreds of Eau Claire high school students walk out of class Wednesday morning, protesting Governor Walker's proposed budget adjustment bill.

Students at Memorial High School protested outside the school for half an hour, chanting "education is our foundation." A student leader says their concerns center on the additional burden teachers and staff will take on if they have to contribute more to their health care coverage and retirement plans.

The walkout wrapped up in half an hour, and no incidents were reported.

Hear more from students and from the school principal Wednesday night on WQOW News 18.

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