VHS students walk out to protest teacher salaries


Ventura High School students gathered to protest during period four near the Main Street Gym and the surrounding parking lot. Photo by: Adi De Clerck

Students joined a protest by walking out during period four on Oct. 21

Ventura High School students walked out of their period four classes at 10:41 a.m. Oct. 21, 11 minutes after the beginning of the period. They walked out to a pre-planned student protest in support of increasing VHS teachers’ salaries. Students gathered near the Atoms for Peace statue but moved to Main Street in front of the Main Street gym at 10:42 a.m. The protest continued until 11:50 a.m., though its organizers initially planned it to last through the end of period four (12:10 p.m.).

The protest was organized by Mateo Navarro ’23, Sinthia Cardenas ’23, Jaden Elizondo ’23 and Caylin Mobley ’23. Navarro uploaded information surrounding the protest on his Instagram (@beached_tater), where he instructed students to wear red Oct. 21 to support the protest. He first publicly announced the protest in an Instagram post posted Oct. 17. 

Ventura Police Department officers, VHS administrative officials and campus supervisors supervised the protest. In addition, VHS teachers were prohibited from participating in or commenting on the protest due to their district contract. 

Navarro addresses protesters near Main Street. In his speech at the protest, Navarro said, “Teachers know that we, the students, are the future. They prioritize us, make us feel special and put us first. So I have to ask, how can the district expect to put students first if [they] keep putting teachers last?” Photo by: Adi De Clerck

Navarro said, “I decided to plan the protest as a way to unify our student body under a pressing matter: spreading awareness of the teacher salaries that have been brought upon by [the Ventura Unified School District]. With only a three percent increase in their pay, we are fighting to make it an 11.5 percent increase, so they can sustain living in Ventura while still giving us a healthy teaching environment.”

Several students spoke during the protest by using a megaphone. Students also chanted, “Raise the pay!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, where did all the money go?” All four principal organizers gave speeches during the protest.

Protester Nick DeGeorge ’24 said, “[I wanted to protest] to support fair pay for teachers. They haven’t been receiving enough for how much they work for us. For the time they put in for our success, we should put in time for their success. It’s good to see the students coming together to show their support.”

Mobley said, “I hope that the VUSD realizes the pressure being put on them by not only the teachers but the students. The issue goes deeper than the teachers, it affects the students as well. I hope the VUSD enacts the change that everyone wants. It’s a little disheartening that we have to do this and miss class time, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to support my teachers that have supported me.”

Principal Marissa Rodriguez said, “[The VHS administration is] happy to work with our students in allowing their voices to be heard while ensuring students are safe through the process. Students have the right to free speech and student safety is at the forefront of our response [to the protest].”

Protesters write their past teachers’ names in chalk on the parking lot adjacent to Main Street. Cardenas, who distributed chalk to protesters, said, “I think we got [a] great turnout [at the protest]. I’m super excited [about] everyone who showed up and came to support our teachers. I hope the district listens to the VHS students protesting.” Photo by: Adi De Clerck

Navarro said, “[The VHS administration] have been incredibly helpful in making sure we do this safely. Although they can’t support a walkout on school grounds, they accept that students feel the need to do this and will ensure that it is safe and secured while we protest.”

VUSD Director of Communications and Public Information Officer Marieanne Quiroz said, “Exercising the right to free speech is something [the] district and school administration want to support our students in doing as safely as possible. [The] VUSD is prepared to have staff on hand to ensure that students are safely able to voice their opinions. The district and [the] VHS administration are happy to work with our student body to ensure safety while students exercise their right to free speech.”

The Ventura Unified Education Association was contacted for comment but has not responded as of Oct. 25.