High school students in Newark, New Jersey in the US, took to the streets yesterday to protest school 'reforms' being enacted in the district. At one point they blocked a busy intersection, holding up the traffic for twenty minutes. The school board had attempted to scare the students against taking action, by writing to parents telling them that the protests could lead to detention or suspension from school. However as many as two thousand of them took part in the protest which ended on the steps of City Hall.

This is just the latest action by the students who earlier this year occupied the offices of the school superintendent, Cami Anderson. Students say Anderson has consistently ignored the voices of parents, students and communities and undermined democracy. Appointed by state governor Christie, she has pushed through the so-called One Newark Plan, which is running down and closing community public schools and replacing them with semi-privatised charter schools. 

The latest protest was sparked by the administration's decision to designate up to ten schools as so-called 'turnarounds', where teachers are forced to sign a contract agreeing to work extra hours, including in the school holidays and on Saturdays. A student at one of the designated schools said, 'It's already turned around so we don't need it!' 

The students took up chants, including: 'We have a duty to fight! We have a duty to win! Whose schools? Our schools! We have nothing to lose but our chains!' The students are protesting as well against the PARCC standardised testing system, which has been bought from giant education corporation Pearson.

School students in many parts of the US have been fighting corporate education 'reform' - in particular school closures, the mushrooming of semi-private charter schools, underfunding and standardised testing.

Meanwhile in Seattle, thousands of teachers and their supporters protested on Thursday as part of their campaign for proper education funding which would lower class sizes in the state of Washington. The state has some of the largest classes in the country, despite being one of the richest.