AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Thousands of teachers protested at the state Capitol against more than $10 billion in proposed cuts to public education and the group included a caravan of Dallas Independent School District teachers, administrators and community leaders.
The group representing the DISD, including three board members, boarded more than one dozen buses early Monday morning and headed to Austin.
The Alliance- American Federation of Teachers helped organize the trip.
Texas AFT President, Linda Bridges shouted out to the more than 3,000 demonstrators, “we are here today, because we know that Texas can do better.”
The Dallas group arrived at mid-morning and headed straight for the capitol building, hoping to meet face-to-face with their state representatives.
“I’ll definitely let him know that our students do not deserve to be crammed into the classrooms like sardines and that teachers need to be in the classroom, teaching and not on the unemployment line,” DISD teacher Chrisdya Houston said adamantly.
Most teachers were unsuccessful in their quest to speak with lawmakers. At Senator Royce West’s office, demonstrators signed a list to let the West know that they were there to defend their job and their students.
“We know that the greatest impact for us will be against our children,” explained DISD teacher Joseph Collier.
The rally began with a high school marching band and protesters carrying blue umbrellas as a symbol for the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Texas Federation of Teachers President Linda Bridges says the state needs a balanced approach to solve the budget crisis. “Choices should include the use of the Rainy Day Fund.”
Lawmakers must find a way to close a $27 billion budget shortfall and a draft budget could lay-off 100,000 teachers. That’s about a third of the state’s public school teachers.
During the rally one teacher said he didn’t know how his campus would survive with the kinds of cuts being proposed. “All of this is putting, it’s being put on the teachers backs. It’s not just, it’s not fair for folks that have dedicated their lives to teach.”
Not only are teachers worried about their jobs but also there are concerns about the reduction of school programs and how teaches who have jobs in September will deal with larger class sizes.
In North Texas alone, school districts could lose as much as $300 million in state education funds.
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