Monday, May 01, 2006
Protest provides great excuse to skip school
One thing that really stood out to me after walking around the rally in downtown Los Angeles today -- all the people smiling.

Normally, when I go to a political rally where people are protesting something, their faces appear very serious, even angry. Here it's almost like a celebration.

I do see some Mexican and Korean flags here and there, but I'd say 90 percent are American. I think the organizers are getting better at playing to their audience in middle-America, because no one is handing out Mexican paraphernalia -- it's all American.

The mayor of Los Angeles, along with a lot of other leaders, told students to go to school today, but I see kids everywhere I look.

I asked one kid if he came here just to get out of class, but he was pretty serious. He said he was born here, but his parents were not, and it's important to him to join the rally.

But I doubt that's the case with all the students who missed school today. We called the Los Angeles school district, and they said about 72,000 students, or more than one quarter of the total number of students in grades 6-12, didn't show up today.
Posted By Chris Lawrence, CNN Correspondent: 6:58 PM ET
  29 Comments
My sister had a riot at her school last week. Today they weren't worried about a riot because of the rallies. However, tomorrow they are very worried. I think this was a reason to skip out on a day of school.
Posted By Anonymous Katie, Los Angeles, CA : 7:27 PM ET
I'm glad school children took the day off to go to the protests to show support to their parents and learn about the rights of free speech. They probably learned more today than they would have staying in school. I don't personally support these demonstrations, however, and feel that their cause will backfire in the long run because of public anger at their demands for "rights".
Posted By Anonymous Cathy, Minneapolis, MN : 7:27 PM ET
Here is a radical idea. The illegal immigrants should protest in their OWN country in order to change things. Maybe it is the corrupt Mexican government that needs to be more compassionate to it's own citizens. Then they wouldn't feel the need to march in a foreign country for rights they should have in their beloved homeland.
Posted By Anonymous Travis, Richmond VA : 7:28 PM ET
I hope all students who elected to miss scholl today get an unexcused absence. This was hailed as an economic boycott. Missing school shows the apathy kids in general have towards education, which their future is more closely tied to than immigration reform.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan M, Tucson, AZ : 7:29 PM ET
When students bunk school for fun, and say that it was to protest something, the way authorities need to punish them, is to make them loose one academic year of schooling so that they graduate one year later. A swift stinging slap is a better punishment than a drawn-out verbal argument. The reason America does not prosper any more is because they talk too much and act little. If they had nuked any of the terroristic regions even once, no country would have dared screw us. I believe that the US needs to get back to the heights of military strength that she had during World War II.
Posted By Anonymous Kavita Gunaji, Beaverton, Oregon : 7:32 PM ET
I'm not impressed with these miscreants ditching school. I'm impressed with the ones who chose to stay in school and get an education. Just like there's undoubtedly going to be a backlash for many that skipped work, there should be a backlash for those who cut school too.
Posted By Anonymous Alex, Belmont, California : 7:32 PM ET
Maybe the student you talked to was serious, but a number of my daughter's friends were going because "hey, my parents said I could miss school for this, so why not??"
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Van Nuys, CA : 7:33 PM ET
The students and the parents of those students were irresponsible for playing hookie. Back when I was in High School, in Westminster, California, there were massive anti-Communist protests, which my parents did not allow me to attend. In the aftermath of Columbine, many students skipped school for the few days following the tragic events that unfolded in Colorado; I didn't. It's really a testament to the lack of respect for education to skip out on school.
Posted By Anonymous Wenton Chan, Irvine, CA : 7:33 PM ET
Oh, one question. All those who posted comments on here sound like teachers that can't wait to slip detention slips and what not to all those students that skipped school today. Am I right
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Richmond, VA : 7:53 PM ET
I strongly support the students who went to the rally instead of school today. They got an excellent education in peaceful protest and DEMOCRACY. It makes me very optimistic that they are moving even closer toward the core values we all share as Americans.
Posted By Anonymous Robert, Oakland, CA : 7:58 PM ET
There is a dangerous blurring of lines that the media (yes, including many reports from YOU CNN) is feeding. That line is the distintion between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigrants. I saw a quote in the CNN article attributed to protestor Melanie Lugo: "We are the backbone of what America is, legal or illegal, it doesn't matter," Yes, Melanie, it DOES matter. For above any issue with regard to ILLEGAL immigrants, we are a country that is run by the rule of LAW. Furthermore, I think we do a large disservice to our younger generation (regardless of their heritage) by not continually marking the distinction between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigrants. For my own part, I back President Bush's take on this: These workers, while illegal, are a benefit to our economy. They are NOT felons. They do deserve limited amnesty and a defined (that means unblurred) path to citizenship. But make no mistake, if we ignore the LEGAL issues surrounding this just because people protest, then we are going against the principles upon which this country was founded.
Posted By Anonymous Ray Hudson, Huntington Beach, CA : 7:58 PM ET
Funding for California's public schools is tied to daily student attendance. In this case, skipping school would dovetail nicely with an economic boycott.

Furthermore, to say that these kids will be hurt from missing one day in school is sheer ridiculousness. If you think schools do much to improve the education of immigrants and other ESL students, you have another thing coming. If you want people to assimilate, fix the way these people (many of whom are US citizens!) are educated.
Posted By Anonymous Amanda, San Diego, CA : 7:59 PM ET
As an immigrant I can understand why the Mexican population wants to stream across the U.S. borders. However, I have stood in the lines at the INS offices, I paid the fees, had the pictures done, fingerprints and the interviews. It took me several years, but I paid my dues and did it the right way. I pay my taxes. I'm sorry but illegal immigrants don't have rights as far as I am concerned and taking jobs away from hard working Americans and legal immigrants is just plain wrong. There should be no debates. They should be sent home and told to pursue their dream the legal way as I and so many others have done. Why don't they protest in their own streets for better working conditions, fair wages and any other rights they to which they think they are entitled?
I could be out there protesting that I lost my job to outsourcing and haven't been able to find one since, I'm not, but that's another story.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn, Fernley NV : 8:01 PM ET
should children of illegal immigrants be allowed citizenship because they were born in the United States?
Posted By Anonymous joe, morristown, nj : 8:03 PM ET
I agree perhaps the demonstrations should be taking place in Mexico. Why do we expect that the people of Iraq build a democracy in their country but the Mexicans can simply leave their country to come illegally to another. And here is an idea for a boycott - Americans stop spending tourist dollars in Mexico ! Do you think that would get Mr. Fox's attention.
Posted By Anonymous kathy, Norwich, Ct : 8:03 PM ET
I don't see the comment on this or the CNN home page, but yes, my grand parents (I'M 65) came to this country in 1862 from England. They did it by apply for a work visa at the US Embassy in London (no mean trick in 1862) and did it the right way...with control under the US government.
Posted By Anonymous John Farrar, Goodyear AZ : 8:05 PM ET
How much did each absense cost each school district?? I believe pay per student is provided to each district based on daily attendance. Send this Bill to Vicente Fox or deduct it from a mexican bank acccount. Vrspy Buzz Baer Kailua Kona Hi.
Posted By Anonymous Buzz Baer Kailua Kona Hi. : 8:10 PM ET
I don't think some students leave school for the right reasons, and if they do just leave school because they don't feel like being there, then they should be ashamed of themselves. They should not use the struggles of other people as an excuse for them not to go to school, it's just wrong. That being said those who actually know the issue at hand and want to help in whatever way they can: more power to you!! Use your rights and influence something, don't just sit back and do nothing. I do hope also, that the people who think that the only people protesting are immigrants, know that they are wrong. A lot of people who are protesting are actually American citizens who either were immigrants or are relatives to those who were or are immigrants.
Posted By Anonymous Daisy, Houston TX : 8:12 PM ET
I really dont feel the parents are doing wrong to let thier kids have the choice to skips school as long as they know the meaning. Its really important for everyone to understand (even children) the immigrants play a big a part in this economy. I have experienced it first hand.......no matter what people say you cannot get an American to work at an industrial site for $7.25. I dont care what anyone says white people will not work for $7.25. So yes, my point I do support "LAS GRAN MARCHA" and any other form of free speech, and to finish my statement: FARMERS DONT FEED AMERICA- IMMIGRANTS DO.
Posted By Anonymous Marlen, Sacramento, Ca : 8:13 PM ET
I thought this was America. We were founded and built on the backs of immigrants. People come here for that American, to find a better life for them and their families. They weren't turned away then and why should we turn them away now. I am Hispanic, and my family has been in Texas before Texas was even called Texas. It upsets me when people say that we need to go back to mexico. When my family has been here longer than their's probably has. I am glad that the students were able to go to those rallies. They need to stand up for themselves, their families, their people, and their rights as Americans, or if they are illegal, human beings.
Posted By Anonymous Patricia Amarillo, Texas : 8:56 PM ET
I'm very amused by all the folks who are admonishing these kids about missing one day of school. Please people. Do you even remember school? It was mostly a waste of time run more holding chamber for hormonal subadults than the educational necessity you seem to think it is. Think back- health class? PE? You are clearly out of touch...
And I completely agree with those of you who are pointing out that this is the most valuable Civics lesson these kids may ever get. Lighten up folks. Participation is supposed to be fun and education is not meant as a punishment!
Posted By Anonymous Kari, Albany, CA : 8:57 PM ET
You know what's really weird? The same demonstrators in 10 years, maybe less, will be screaming to close the border because it will be on their backs then
Posted By Anonymous Jo, Liberal, Ks : 9:29 PM ET
To Ray from Huntington Beach, who says: "if we ignore the LEGAL issues surrounding this just because people protest, then we are going against the principles upon which this country was founded."

Exactly what principles is he talking about? Legally the 13 colonies were part of Britain. Legally they had no recourse for their grievances save for groveling in front of Parliament. Legally, what they did was illegal. The colonists weren't relying on man's law, but rather appealing to a higher, unwritten law, be it God or Natural Law or what have you. The point is, this country was founded by people who got hosed by the law and stood up for their natural rights, whether the law recognized them or not. Whatever you may think of the illegals' case, the world doesn't begin and end at the law. At least, it didn't for the founding fathers.
Posted By Anonymous Kay from Los Angeles, CA : 2:46 AM ET
You can get whites to work for 7.25 an hour, come to Cumberland, MD and see... In a recent study published in the Times-News, only police officers make enough money to afford the median home price of $88,000. We really didn't have immigrant protests here, so far, the immigrant population has figured out its best to stay where there is better pay.
Posted By Anonymous bj cumberland, md : 3:29 AM ET
I am all for everybody getting ahead in life. But these illegal immigrants are just that-illegal. Get legal, pay taxes, learn the language and stop trying to make American "Little Mexico". The illegal immigrants definately contribute dollars to the economy but how much of those dollars are they paying taxes on? And how about the millions of dollars the US spends on health care for illegal immigrants every year when I can barely afford to pay for health insurance for my family. I work in a hospital and am sick and tired of seeing how the system is so abused.
Change needs to come according to the law. If you are not legal, you don't have the rights. Period.
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Raleigh, NC : 3:41 AM ET
I agree with you that some students just wanted an excuse to miss school. I also beleive the same about some of the adults missing work just to not have to go to work. I had a hispanic tell me he was just going to the protest here because there were going to be alot of girls. TLA
Posted By Anonymous Lavon Springdale,Ar : 3:54 AM ET
There is no such thing as an "illegal immigrant." An immigrant is one who followed the rules and established procedures and came to the U.S.A. legally; he or she emigrated to this country. Those who didn't do that and are here illegally are correctly termed "illegal ALIENS." Why do we as a country so desperately "need" the kind of labor that these illegal aliens bring to the workplace? Simple. Because our native born unskilled & semi-skilled labor force has cracked the code. Many have figured out that they can make as much or more by not lifting a finger. It's called welfare. Thank three generations of bleeding heart liberal leadership (key among them John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Ted "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton) for the mess they've made.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Jacksonville, NC : 9:20 AM ET
Here's a school lesson these kids wouldn't have been taught if the DID attend classes: Davey Crocket was an illegal alien and was killed defending his right to be illegally in a foreign country.
Posted By Anonymous Daryl, Mason, TX : 9:28 AM ET
It makes no sense to use illegal immigrants as a scapegoat for problems in the health care system. You also have to take into account actual American citizens who are living without insurance. I am a college student, about to graduate, and I am surrounded by these types of people. Also a drain on the economy. Blaming the illegals for this problem is the easy way out. And taking our jobs? You can sit there and tell me that American citizens will do the agricultural field work that the immigrants do for the same compensation? If you say yes, then okay, I guess they are taking "our" jobs. Highly unlikely.
Posted By Anonymous Justin, Las Vegas, NV : 6:41 PM ET
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