East Texas teachers to rally against education cuts

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - "We are leaving from the Lufkin mall at 6 a.m. sharp on Monday the 14th," said Stephen Wright.

The Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFTA) field representative, with the help of local organizers, has rallied about 60 East Texas teachers for Monday's lobby day.

"They're really concerned and they hear all this rhetoric about how our public schools the most important thing that we can do for our kids and our state and yet the funding is not there to back it up, so they're heading to Austin to make sure they can change that," said Wright.

Any educator wanting to join the East Texas delegation can still contact the AFT regional office in Lufkin at 936 634-6209. There is also a rally on Saturday called "Save Texas Schools" intended for parents.

Shawn Lucena had the job of recruiting teachers to take the trip. The science teacher's formula was to remind teachers up to 1,000 education jobs could be cut.

"We're not talking 5 or 10 years from now. We're talking about next year or possibly even the rest of this year and when it hits that close to home, yes, everyone is going to take an interest," said Lucena.

Eric Ewing teaches his students educators are reformers. The history teacher's rally support reinforces the lesson.

"I understand that the state is out of money and I understand there needs to be cuts. I just want to make sure that education not being cut more severe than somebody else," said Ewing.

AFT's main suggestion to avoid cuts is to utilize the rainy day fund.

"And we're actually going to have 3000 teachers with umbrellas on Monday to remind legislators it is indeed raining," shared Wright. "We need to use all that $9.4 billion rainy day fund to help close the gap."

Veteran teacher, Linda Fields asks legislators to step back from the numbers and personalize the issue before making cuts.

"Maybe they have children, grandchildren that will be coming along in these schools and they want the best possible education they can get and that's by having the most teachers they can have," said Fields.

Fields plans to participate in the 'Save Texas Schools' rally on Saturday, in addition to Monday's rally.

"I think this is going to be something that will make a statement," said Fields with a satisfied smile.

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