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Save Texas Schools Rally

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Photo by: Michelle Tovar

11,000 Texans gathered on the steps of the State Capitol to Rally on March 12, 2011 to Save Texas Schools from a 10 billion reduction in public school funding. The Rally was organized by Save Texas Schools.

“ Save Texas Schools is a nonpartisan statewide volunteer coalition of parents, students, educators, business leaders, concerned citizens, community groups and faith organizations.”

Since The Texas House has convened in January it has considered budget cuts across the board to decrease future spending in all areas of government. The House writes a budget for a two-year term, which will affect the 2012-2013 biennium.

In the area of public education there lies a 10 billion deficit. Parents, teachers, students and concerned citizens traveled to Austin and stood shoulder-to-shoulder to bear witness to one unifying voice state, “Save Texas Schools”.

Superintendent John Kuhn of Perrin-Whitt CISD, (northwest of Dallas) was one of the keynote speakers at the rally. He galvanized a crowd of hundreds with his rhetorical speech on budget-cut perseverance.
“Millionaire senators cut my pay back to minimum wage, and still I will march into that classroom full of children who need me. Still I will walk proudly into that classroom with its broken ceiling tiles and burned out florescent bulbs. I will walk forward! Bail out the bankers and bankrupt the teachers. We will still teach!”

Kuhn along with the power of the masses gathered proposed a three step solution for the state budget shortfalls:

1. Use the Rainy Day Fund 9.3 billion
2. Fix the Funding. Fix school funding laws to be fair for all school districts and growing populations.
3. Signing 830 million in federal aid for teachers.

Among the crowd was Principal Sandra Stroope of Lee Elementary in Caddo Mills ISD (northeast of Dallas) and Caddo Teacher Rolanda Hasten. Both along with a group of supportive faculty, staff and friends stood together speaking out loud, “Save our Schools!”

“Children’s education is being watered-down, and test expectations are raised. Test cost is 10 million, not counting district costs,” said Stroope.

To put these figures in perspective in 2006, TEA signed a contract with Pearson for an additional sum of 8.8 million until the end of summer 2011 for TAKS study guides. This year alone, taxpayers will dish out 93 million to administer the TAKS.

Eric Lacy, Teacher at Milby High School in HISD also feels the impact. His wife and daughter traveled to Austin in support of saving his career.

“At this time you’re supposed to get your contract for next year, but I’m still waiting,” said Lacy.

Alexis Fernandez, student at UT and Ramiro Guerra, UT Grad both reps for www.savetxschools.org were busy fighting gusty winds and politicians by handing out information and asking people to write letters to their representatives there on the spot.

“The goal is to reach out to state reps, let them know the economic education plan is not acceptable in Texas,” said Fernandez.

“We’re going to go down the path of destruction if we don’t have good education in place. Crime rate will rise! People don’t realize the ramifications that come from cutting education, and not making it a priority,” said Guerra.

Sylvia Juhasz is a Kindergarten teacher at Lake Highlands Elem., in Richardson ISD. “Quality of education should be our #1 priority. We should be investing not taking away from it,” said Sylvia.

She along with her daughter Aniko a senior at Richardson High School spent their day at the state capitol holding signs against blustery weather.

Aniko said, “If any teachers go away, kids won’t come back to school,” she said this while holding a sign that read DROPPING TEACHERS MEANS MORE DROPOUTS.

Austin teachers were also in high attendance. Ysabel Pena, 3rd grade English/Bilingual teacher at Travis Heights Elementary knows the pay is better elsewhere, but stays in the classroom, where she is needed most.

“I know we need to make changes, but lots of big bucks lie in administration and book adoptions. There has to be a balance with school funding. What kinds of deals are going on with administration,” Pena asks.

Dianida Gonzales a teacher at Lorenzo Zavala Elementary in Crystal City LDZ also rode to the capitol simply because as she states, “I want my voice to be heard,” proudly wearing her school spirit with a homemade sign that read EDUCATION FIRST.

From Magnolia ISD with a determination to speak up and out is Karen Foux one teacher who certainly believes in this grassroots movement.

“If we want business and industry we need a well educated population to operate in a global economy. We get the citizens behind us to show that education is crucial to Texas,” Foux said.

One sentiment crossing differences in gender, race and political ideology is the concern for Texans education. The people to attended the rally today have expressed a desire to reunite again if the state funding for schools does not improve, with the only difference being that they will bring more people next time.

For more information on Save Texas Schools go to www.savetxschools.org or you can also save schools by doing the following 3 things:
1. Write or call your state representative and senator and get others to do the same.
2. Speak out in your local media.
3. Ask your legislator to come back to your district to hold a forum on education funding.



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