Education Rallies Roll into the Capitol
Friday, March 11, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas - Thousands of school employees and their supporters from around the state are preparing to converge on the Capitol this weekend, hoping to convince lawmakers that growing numbers of Texans will not accept looming cuts to public education.
Jason Sabo decided to get active when Austin's school district included his son's exemplary-rated elementary school on a list of possible closures. Sabo joined a coalition of teachers, families and community and business leaders called "Save Texas Schools" which will march to the Capitol at noon Saturday. Sabo says the current budget draft, which emphasizes cuts over new revenues, would be disastrous to all Texans.
"It doesn't just matter to families with children. It doesn't just matter to one sector of the population or another. It matters to absolutely everybody in the state."
If the draft budget passes, the Center for Public Policy Priorities predicts state job losses - including more than 100,000 education positions. That would lead to an overall spike in unemployment from 8.3 percent to more than 10 percent, the center says, which, in turn, would slow the overall economy. Such scenarios - along with rising public pressure - are causing lawmakers from both parties to consider alternatives to slashing school spending by nearly $10 billion.
One possibility is tapping into the state's $9.4 billion "rainy-day fund," something Gov. Rick Perry repeatedly has opposed.
Linda Bridges, Texas president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), is calling for a balanced approach which brings in new education dollars from federal sources and from closing tax loopholes.
"Understanding there will be some cuts, but at the same time, knowing there are some things they could do so the cuts won't be so devastating."
Texas AFT is following Saturday's rally with a citizen-lobby day Monday, expecting thousands more educators and supporters to give legislators a piece of their minds.
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