Bill Boyarsky
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Hamilton high students' brilliant political organizing coup

Some of the city’s sharpest political organizers can be found at Hamilton High School. Inspired by the young people of Egypt and Tunisia, they used e-mail and Facebook over the weekend and got 600 students and Times columnist Steve Lopez to the campus Monday in a campaign against layoffs facing about 7,000 L.A. public school teachers. I know many a paid political hack who would sell his or her soul to the devil (again) for such a coup.

Their next goal is to persuade 2,000 or so more students and adults to attend a rally in front of the school at 2955 S. Robertson Blvd. at 9 a.m, Friday, March 18. Everyone interested in protecting L.A. Unified schools is welcome, Sophie Trauberman, a Hamilton senior, told me. I hope many more than 2,000 show up—parents, grandparents, neighbors, any supporter of good education—and then follow up with e-mails of their own to the hopeless state legislature.

I talked to Trauberman, 17, a student in Hamilton’s Music Academy, at the suggestion of her rabbi, Dara Frimmer of Temple Isaiah, who told me about the students’ organizing.
When word spread Friday about the layoffs, Trauberman and a small group of other Hamilton students decided to organize a meeting on campus for Monday. She said Lopez got about 100 e mails. He wrote a terrific column supporting the students. They also used e mails and Facebook to contact other students.

“If we didn’t have Facebook, if we didn’t have a way to connect with everyone, if we didn’t have a way to contact each other, we wouldn’t have had 600 at the meeting,” Trauberman said. “If we didn’t have Facebook and e mail, nobody would know what is going on.”

Here's the event on Facebook:

The organizers dug into the complexities of the budget issues, learning the significance to what’s happening in Sacramento. They presented the information to the students at the Monday meeting. On Wednesday, about 20 students met to plan the next steps, which includes sending thousands of e mails and faxes to Sacramento.

Students in the L.A. school system have been isolated, uninterested or too often intimidated by school administrators who don’t want any trouble. Now they have a way of organizing on their own. This could be a vibrant new dimension to the eternal school district struggles—student power.

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