Reporting Stephanie Lucero
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Teachers across North Texas are not ready for their Spring Break vacations just yet. They are marching on Austin to fight for more money and better safety for their schools. The educators gathered at the Dallas headquarters of the American Federation of Teachers on Monday morning to travel to the state’s capitol for a rally.
About 300 North Texas teachers joined thousands of other educators, community leaders, pastors and public officials Monday for the annual event. They lobbied to restore the $4.5 billion in cuts to public education in Texas. Teachers said that they are being required to do more with less, and that it has had an impact on morale.
“There’s a lot of mandates being given from the state and the federal level, but they’re not being funded,” said Alliance AFT executive vice president George Rangel. Alliance AFT represents about 65,000 people statewide.
During the previous school year, about 25,000 school personnel jobs were cut statewide. “It is always one of the most important issues that we have to deal with in this district, and we’re hoping that they really pay attention to that,” explained Rangel. “We need more teachers in the classroom, and the only way that we’re going to do that is if we have funding.”
Math and science teacher Raymund Saunders said that budget cuts have hurt students directly, because he does not have enough materials for all of his classes. “If this is an emphasis for the future, math and science, then we really need to finance it,” he said.
The rallying teachers also lobbied for test reform, pension issues and safer schools. Alliance AFT is additionally concerned about an effort to give tax credits to businesses that donate to private schools. The group explained that this plan would divert money away from public schools. The members of Alliance AFT would also like to see standardized hours for every school district. They are taking time away from Spring Break to make their voices heard in Austin.
Eleven buses left the DFW area at 7:00 a.m. Monday morning from gathering spots in Dallas, Lancaster and Mesquite. The rally at the State Capitol started at 1:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
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