30 Mar Teachers, Others Protest Cuts in Alabama’s Funding for Schools (AL)

March 30, 2011

By: Marie Leech

About 80 people rallied in front of the Jefferson County Board of Education during rush hour this afternoon to protest state budget cuts in education, which they say is increasing class sizes, drying up school supply money and killing teacher morale in just about every school district.

The American Federation of Teachers led the rally, accompanied by parents, other labor unions, the NAACP and a few students.

"The fact is there are some schools that won’t even be able to open their doors this fall," said Vi Parramore, president of the Jefferson County AFT. Proration — across-the-board state budget cuts — has been in effect for three years in a row, and the 2012 budget is looking even bleaker. Educators say the cuts are taking a toll on the classroom, which they say needs to be protected.

"In Birmingham schools, kids don’t have toilet paper," said Richard Franklin, president of Birmingham AFT. "I’m having to bring pencils for my children because the teachers don’t have money to buy them. How are our kids supposed to get an education in an environment like that?"

Franklin said AFT chose the Jefferson County Board of Education offices — on the corner of 20th Avenue South and Valley Avenue near Vulcan Park — because when standing on the street corner, you can see Mountain Brook, Homewood and Birmingham city limits. That represents four school systems, including Jefferson County, he said.

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