“Public Transportation NOT Truancy Tickets”
On Tuesday, March 31st, members of Westchester High School's Taking Action club held a rally and press conference to urge MTA to support the BRU's Clean Air and Economic Plan. Students highlighted the consequences of poor service on line 115 (Manchester Blvd) to demonstrate why increased bus service is so critical for thousands of LAUSD students throughout the county. Their message was clear: "Transportation NOT Tickets" and "More Bus Service = Educational Access." In Los Angeles, students are routinely ticketed when they are late to school with $250 truancy tickets, even when their lateness is a result of poor bus service or overcrowded buses that pass them up. In the case of Westchester students, only 3 out of 16 buses on line 115 stop in front of school between 6:30am-8:00am (when school begins). The rest stop 1.75 miles away. In the afternoons, students frequently cannot participate in after school activities because of the slow service that will simply get them home too late.
Students kicked off the rally with spirited chanting of "1,000 more buses, 1,000 less tickets" and "Instead of making me pay this huge ol' fine, put some more money into the bus line." Following the press conference, students took out their cell phones and called Mayor Villaraigosa and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to urge them to support students by supporting the BRU's Plan.
Cathia Barrow Member of Westechester Taking Action performs spoken word piece Who am I at the Rally
Who am I by Cathia Barrow
Who am I?
Am I really the future as everyone says or just another court case
Below the federal poverty line is where the majority is based
So how can one afford a $250 truancy ticket for being 30 minutes late
Especially since unemployment among minorities is highest in the state
Not to mention that LAUSD has a 50% high school drop out rate
See, the students here are not all to blame
When our public transportation system is lame
But Imagine MTA if students had better transportation
To better their chances at receiving an education
And not end up at a police station
Imagine if schools would realize that being able to criminalize our youth is where the problem lies
Tardiness can be dealt with in our ways
Instead they put us in the hands of the ones that say they "protect and serve"
Giving us tickets for simply being late is a punishment we do not deserve
MTA imagine living in a city where transportation was a priority
and not ticket territory
Where handcuffs placed in the wrists of our youth were considered peculiar
And police unfamiliar
MTA imagine if you put 500 new expansion buses on the street
And revearse the '07 fare increase
Maybe the number of tardy students would decrease
Imagine if schools weren't a pipeline to prison
Introducing our youth in the court system at an early age
Imprisoning them like an animal in a cage
It's time for a change
Imagine how much transportation means to a student striving for success
But daily tardiness is making you depressed, stress leading to your future arrest
Imagine MTA being the student disabled from participating in after school activities because the 115 comes once an hour
Or forcing you to come home at an indecent hour
Imagine MTA the change transportation can make for me and my peers
A better life in our future years
Kassie Walters gives a speach on students right to educational access
See newspaper Coverage of rally:
Los Angeles Sentinel: http://www.lasentinel.net/Students-Organize-Protest.html
La Opinion (en espanol): http://www.impre.com/laopinion/noticias/la-california/2009/4/1/exigen-am...