Thursday, June 02, 2005

March for Kids, March for Schools

Adequate funding for public schools was the issue yesterday in Rhode Island where students, parents, teachers and education advocates marched from a local high school to the State House. Marchers carried signs which read "Kids come first" and "March for our kids, March for our schools."

The march was organized by the local chapter of ACORN and met up with union activists and others from the group Working Rhode Island.

The goal of the ACORN organized march was to send a message to legislators and Governor Carcieri that public schools need more state money now. "While our state leaders are still deciphering the budget, we need to send them the message loud and clear: Stop our children from suffering any more! Fund our schools now!" said ACORN member Vivian Moreno, a mother of three. "We need a statewide fair and predictable formula where every child in the state has access to a quality education and immediately our school districts need more money for the upcoming school year."

Stephanie Cannady, a march coordinator and a Rhode Island delegate to the national ACORN organization, told the Providence Journal parents were moved to march after reading news reports about state officials pondering tax breaks for companies as they discuss curtailing aid to public education. "Our goal is basically, as parents, to make a stand and say that we're fed up and tired," said Cannady, who has a son graduating from high school and a daughter in the third grade at Asa Messer Elementary. "For the past three years, this struggle [over funding education] has been an ongoing thing."

Also quoted in the Providence Journal was Nancy Evans-Lloyd, a parent who joined a local Save Our Schools coalition in March 2004, when the School Department made its first round of cuts in extra-curricular activities. She said schools have become "pretty darn dry" and "unmotivating." "Three years ago the schools were doing so well [with education reform]," Evans-Lloyd said. "But the last three years they've just been chipping away and chipping away and chipping away." Evans-Lloyd came to the march with her son, Davis, a seventh grade student at Nathanael Greene Middle School. She said many parents brought their children to "set a good example" and teach them that "you have to stand up for what you believe in."

Fred McLin who graduated from Johnson & Wales University two weeks ago, wore his black cap and gown to draw attention, he said, tucking a bullhorn under his arm, and to emphasize that many Providence students might not graduate from college if the state is not willing to invest in their education. In order for today's youth to flourish, McLin said, they need more and after-school programs that promote positive activities and teamwork.

At the state house, as stated earlier they met up with thousands of union members who were there to show solidarity and to demand some respect from the governor. "All he's been doing since he got elected is demonizing the unions," Frank J. Montanaro, president of the state AFL-CIO said of the governor.

According to at times, the rally got “downright nasty.” Scott Malloy, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, said he was sick of "the rich" pushing unions around "in order to bring down the taxes of the wealthy." He called the governor "that shifty bum." Stan Israel, vice president of District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, called Carcieri a "liar and a cheat."

Attacking the myth of the glory of the “private sector,” Pat Mancini, a registered nurse at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, said: "I am proud to stand up and say I am a public employee. I am tired of hearing this myth about the virtue of the private sector," she added, naming a string of troubled companies. "We do the work the private sector can't do or won't do." Sources: Providence Journal,


steve heeren said...

of course we should protest cutbacks to education but when funding for K-12 in now tied to Bush's No Child Left Behind act of 2001, there's not much chance. what needs to be raised is the gradual militarization of the schools. here's one article:<2136/

steve heeren said...

let's see if I can get the link right this time: