Saturday, March 12, 2011

First We March on Austin

Waking up at 5:30 am  after a week of double shifts is not how I planned to spend my first Spring break Saturday.  My father taught me that there are times you have to do what you have to do, regardless of how you feel.  Today, I had to be in Austin.

The school district I teach in has been slow to release information regarding any reactions to budget "adjustments" that will need to be made to meet budget short falls for next year.  One of the things that has been on the list of schools all over the nation are layoffs. The target is for the new teachers fist. The one to three year teachers that have just started their journey, have started living the life they have dreamed of since childhood when they fist clutched chalk and taught their dolls and stuffed animals.  My best friend is 40 days from being out of this range.  She received the notice that her contract is up in the air last week.  This has sent us both on a mission to save not just her, but the children and the teachers that will remain.  It is the reason I wake up when I would really love to sleep late.

An organization, Save Texas Schools, organized a rally to march onto the capitol building.  When I got there, they had the building surrounded and were marching to the main stage set up in the back side.  "Save our schools," was chanted by more then 10,000 Texas teachers and education supporters.  
Texas has long had a love hate relationship with education.  We love to make education mandatory, make testing and rules on how paper work is maintained but we hate to provide proper finance.  Texas is 37th in funding per pupil in the United States.  That means as a state we spend $9,227/student in Texas that is $1,359 below the national average.

Texas is however, number one in teen pregnancies, and death penalty sentences.  

Marching shoulder to shoulder, stroller to stroller the chants grew louder.  Several brought drums, beating in time to their walking they rounded the building.  

One second there was a strong crowd next to the stage, then I turned around and there were masses and masses.  Women and men wearing green shirts wondered around passing out dots.  Red dots to count the number of people.  By their counts the numbers were over 11,000.  

I am wearing mine!   (Don't judge the hair it was windy and humid.  And the pink face is from 15 minutes of being in the sun.  Don't even want to talk about what the face looks like now. Whooo. Should have worn giant sunglasses like my friend, then you wouldn't see the bags under the eyes.)

Back to the rally...

The most amazing of the speakers was the Superintendent from Perrin-Whit ISD (outside of Ft. Worth), John Kuhn.  In his inspired speech he requested equitable treatment for school districts.  Likening the present system that lawmakers are continuing to create as "the new American caste system," where the rich send their  children with vetted resumes to get a private education while funding is continually cut for the poor, and the immigrant. Mr. Kuhn stated that he will not be apart of such a system, he will educate every child especially the "broken."   The crowd erupted into cheers. Goose bumps crawled up my skin. 

That was the moment I drove three hours to feel.  Being a part of the community of Texas educators standing together and yelling out that we would stand together as one.    

I beg fellow Texans to become educated on the issue and vote accordingly.  This is not the time to stand passively by, shrugging and saying "it will be what it will be, no one will listen to me." You have to talk to be heard.  Exercise your first amendment right, and protest!  Shout and be heard.

If you missed the rally and live in Texas there will be a second one, Monday.

Be there.  Your children's future depends on it. 


  1. Val, I am so glad you went. I should have made the effort and not the excuses. Thank you for taking the cause to the streets!

  2. Thank you so much for going to this and spreading the world! I have a really soft spot for Austin as I spent five days there in 2008, during my exchange year at UVA, and fell in love. It's so important to raise awareness about issues like this.

    P.S. I sympathise with the sunburn! I'm ridiculously prone to sunburn too...

  3. If it is of any help. there are massive cuts in London too. Good luck!

  4. Amazing photos, amazing moment in time, amazing cause. I'm proud of you!


  5. Good for you. I saw the picture on the front page of today's Chronicle. We must let our Texas legislators know they have to put children first.

  6. I am so happy to hear that Texans care about teachers and are doing something about it. I spent the weekend in the mountains with several teachers, and all they did was bitch about the new cuts, no one suggested doing anything and there is no organization to put something like that in line.

    I really hope that it all works out, since Texas will be our new home in a few years! And I hope your friend gets to keep her job!