Idaho high school students protest education reforms with 'stay-in'

Mar 4 2011 - 11:26am

MOSCOW, Idaho -- While a group of Moscow High School students have serious concerns about Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's education reform pending before the state Legislature, they knew they didn't want to send the wrong message.

"We know other students have been leaving schools in walk-outs, but we wanted to stay in school to show how much we love our teachers," said Celeste Hufford, a MHS senior and one organizer of Thursday night's Save Our Schools, Stay in School sit-in.

The idea for the sit-in was implemented by a handful of concerned students Tuesday after students around the state walked out of classrooms on Monday in protest of the proposed legislation.

Students spent the night camped out in the high school's commons giving educational sessions, speeches, writing legislators and creating protest signs.

Students were required to have signed parental permission to stay the night in the school and were encouraged to bring art supplies, instruments, food and laptops for the event, Hufford said.

Ames Fowler, a MHS senior, said the students have been utilizing social networking sites like Facebook to communicate with other students across the state to develop forums for discussions on the education reform and organize future rallies.

Fowler started a Facebook group titled "Idaho citizens for real, comprehensive education reform" and has been using it and other groups to organize events statewide.

About 15 to 20 MHS students plan to attend the statewide student rally from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Capitol Building, pending available transportation to and from Boise. They plan to spend the night in the Idaho Education Association's basement, Hufford said.

He said students have a role to fill in the reform and deserve a voice in the debates.

The students divided the sit-in into five stages.

The first stage featured an informational session about the legislation to educate students on the reform. Hufford said student organizers of the event spent ample time discussing the legislation with Penny Cyr, a member of Moscow Education Association and Idaho's director of the National Education Association, as well as several other teachers within the school.

"One of the criticisms we've seen is that students are rising up to protest but don't know what they're talking about," Hufford said.

But students are able to make insightful, informed comments about the reform if given the right tools, she said. They should be a part of the discussion because they're the ones directly affected by the changes, Hufford said.

The event featured student speakers, including Hufford, David Steury and slam poetry about the reforms by Kadin McGreevy.

Hufford said she hoped by the end of the informational session and student speeches that students would be encouraged to write their state legislators.

After coordinating with other students around the state, MHS students are in charge of the sign making for the statewide protest, Hufford said.

Students will protest against the legislation on Third Street from 7:45 a.m. until school starts today.

Christina Lords can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 301, or by e-mail to


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