Tears Flow at Education Rally (TX)
April 4, 2011
To underscore his concern about proposed cuts to public schools statewide, a Schertz Clemens High School freshman spoke of his coursework toward a dream of being a genetic engineer and studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A father choked back tears about the possible fate of a beloved Northside school district program that has helped his 9-year-old daughter overcome dyslexia.
And a teacher union leader worked the audience for commitments to spread the word about the need to contact legislators.
“If the people of Egypt can rise up and remove their president, can we not rise up and give our kids a decent education?” said Carmen Quesada with the Texas State Teachers Association.
The Saturday morning scene of about 250 people in the parking lot of Brackenridge High School was repeated in 20 other Texas cities. The coordinated rallies aimed to convince state lawmakers to use emergency reserves to shore up funding for education instead of potent ially causing widespread layoffs and program cancellations.
Organized by the TSTA, the event was called “Day of Action” and attracted parents, teachers, administrators and students from many local school districts. They wore “Don’t Cut Kids Out” stickers, waved signs like, “Don’t tread on children’s education” and chanted, “They say cut back…We say fight back!… Cut back… Fight back!”
The Texas House is set to resume its debate today on an appropriations bill that seeks to cut $23 billion from the budget, including an estimated $8 billion from school district funding.
The ripple effect would be the loss of thousands of jobs, classroom overcrowding and the closure of some schools, speakers said. The best teachers will quit for more sustainable work, they also warned, and Texas students would struggle to compete in job markets and global industries.
The temporary solution is tapping the $9.4 billion rainy day fund, they said. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has agreed to use about a third of it.
“The one who makes the most noise will be the ones who get action,” said state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, during the rally.
In the audience were several of the board presidents from the 20 school districts inside or overlapping into Bexar County.
They estimated up to 2,300 salaried employees — from first-year teachers to full-time support staff — could lose their jobs. Another 1,200 to 1,600 hourly employees — such as custodians and bus drivers — could also lose their jobs, they said.
“Every cut you make affects kids,” said Gilbert Flores, board president of the Judson school district. “We have to cut everywhere, and unfortunately that means some good, first-year teachers.”
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