AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - More than 200 Texas Schoolteachers crowded around the rotunda of the Texas Capitol yet again to protest against education spending cuts.
They demonstrated Monday afternoon to bring pressure on the Legislature to reject proposals to slash state funding obligations to school districts by nearly $4 billion.
They chanted “we will vote you out” Monday to pressure lawmakers to reject proposals to slash state funding obligations to school districts.
The teachers led by the American Teacher’s Federation have become mostly resigned to the Republican-controlled Legislature passing the funding cuts in the special session. Now, they’re aiming their ire on GOP legislative candidates in next year’s elections.
The group will also do a statewide push for teachers to call their lawmakers in the afternoon to give them the message to fully fund schools.
Texas Federation of Teachers President Linda Bridges says teachers are making “one last hard push for us doing right by the kids in this state.”
Groups of teachers who have protested at the Capitol all spring have become mostly resigned to the Republican-controlled Legislature passing the funding cuts in the special session. Now, they’re aiming their ire on GOP legislative candidates in next year’s elections, when they hope to punish lawmakers who pushed the cuts.
KRLD’s Emily Trube Reports from Dallas’ AFT headquarters:
“What they really need to do is reverse these cuts as proposed that will really hurt schools,” said Bridges. That means using the state ‘rainy day fund.’
The Senate passed the cuts Friday, and the full Texas House is expected to take them up early this week. The bill is necessary to balance the state budget, but Democrats have fought the cuts while lawmakers have nearly $10 billion in state reserve funds available to them.
Some Dallas teachers left Monday morning for the day of protests and lobbying. Other teachers couldn’t make the trip but still had their voices heard in Austin.
Patti Villarreal is a seventh grade English teacher in Northwest Independent School District.
She wanted to go to Austin to let lawmakers know she and other teachers don’t want them to cut school funding so drastically, but the mother of two couldn’t make it because school and her children are out for the summer break.
“We’ve got soccer camp, marimba camp, how am I going to do this?” she said.
Instead, she joined teachers from across the state on a teleconference with Sen. Wendy Davis (D – Fort Worth) and Representative Pete Gallegos (D – Alpine).
The telephone town hall meeting was organized by the American Federation of Teachers.
“It’s a call to reach out and communicate with educators across Texas,” Davis said. “Number one, to let them know we are here to support them. Number two, to seek their feedback and input on the decisions that are being made here in the Legislature right now.”
Some teachers could only attend the teleconference because they had work. In Fort Worth ISD, Monday was a make-up day for bad weather.
But the teleconference was a way those absent from Austin could still have their voices heard, Villarreal said.
“We love our jobs that’s the reason we’re teachers,” she explained. “We’re very passionate about our students and our jobs, and I can’t imagine us just laying down and saying ‘okay y’all just do whatever’ and not standing up for our students.”
So through the power of a cell phone, Villarreal and other teachers could still have a direct dialogue with those who hold her future, and her children’s, in the balance.
If the House does not modify the bill passed by the Senate, it will go to Gov. Rick Perry for his approval.
The bill has to be approved in order to balance the state budget.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)