East High returns to class; Rev. Jesse Jackson gives speech - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

East High returns to class; Rev. Jesse Jackson gives speech

MADISON (WKOW) -- Signs waving, chants, and some students marching back to class at Madison East High. Not a typical day back to school -- but a most memorable one.

Senior class president Riley Moore says, "I've been sleeping at the Capitol this week, I came straight from the Capitol to here. I'm doing whatever I can to help out and show support for the teachers and union workers."

Moore participated in the march back to school in favor of Wisconsin public teachers keeping their right to collectively bargain. Moore says, he may be a student, but he's directly effected by this. He says, "Both of my parents are state employees." 

Teachers and students marched side by side, and they were led by an American icon. Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke to students and community members about workers rights, but he also put out a call for all students to make a difference.

Jackson says, "You have the right to pursue an education, fight for social justice, and have humane values at the same time."

After rallying the students and teachers to continue to fight for workers' rights outside, Jackson took his message over the loud speaker, inside the school.

Jackson says, "In the context of a great struggle here in Madison, Wisconsin, for workers rights, and benefits, students are a part of that protest because you too one day will be workers."

Jackson says, it's up to students to help change the world and keep the dialogue going. Something teachers say they're ready and prepared to do.  

History teacher, Jessica Hotz says, "I plan mostly to focus on answering their questions, and clarifying things. Keeping it most to the facts."

Hotz fully admits that she wants to keep her collective bargaining rights and will continue to fight for them. But when it comes to the students in class, she and her colleagues plan to take extreme caution with the topic, and let the students make up their own minds and plans.

Moore says, "We're planning a city-wide student meeting, we're not sure when, but we're trying to get students together and stake out a plan for the next year or two." 

But not everyone feels that way. Many parents and students think they should not be involved in this fight and school is no place for this debate. The Reverend Jackson has words for them.

He says, "You have the right to not protest, you have the right to adjust and you have the right to change things as they ought to be. Americas greatness has been those who took the risk to break the cycle of silence to be agents for change."

Regardless of which side students, parents, teachers, and Wisconsinites fall under, the past week's events have changed the lives and the outlooks of at least one student.

Moore says, "I learned that when something like this happens support comes from all over."

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