Tomorrow: Mass Rally to Save Public Education

Mass Rally to Save Public Education
Thursday, Oct 8th. 4:30PM
Freedom Plaza, corner of 14th and Pennsylvania NW

The WTU is inviting all supporters of public education (parent organizations, PTSA’s, LSR’s, ANC’s, community and neighborhood organizations, faith based organizations, clubs, and concerned
individuals) to join in support of this mass rally. Saving public education means providing our students with the experienced teachers and support staff, classroom supplies and technology and safe school buildings. Saving public education also means welcoming teachers and parents as partners and a commitment in action and word to transparency and public accountability.

Start organizing now through all of your networks: schools, unions, churches, neighborhood organizations. The WTU and AFSCME have already joined together to provide buses. Thousands are expected to turn out for Thursday’s Washington Teachers’ Union Rally for Respect, WTU Chief of Staff Clay White told Union City last night. “Thirty five busses are bringing in students, teachers and parents from across the city, and many more are coming down by subway.

BACKGROUND:

STUDENT MOVEMENT AGAINST TEACHER LAYOFFS CONTINUES TO BUILD: More students took to the streets of DC yesterday to protest teacher firings.
Two hundred students from Spingarn High School marched to the DC District Building during the Council’s legislative session to demand the reinstatement of teachers fired last Friday. Students joined Washington Teachers’ Union President George Parker in testifying about overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers, college applications that aren’t followed up on because the school counselors have been fired and entire disciplines summarily scrapped. The students are expected to join labor, community and faith leaders at the WTU/AFSCME Council 20 mass rally to save public education.

STUDENTS MARCH, SIT-IN FOR FIRED DC SCHOOL WORKERS: More than 200 District high school students walked out of classes Monday to protest the layoff of 388 school employees last week. Chanting “No counselors, no college!” students met at McKinley Technology High School and marched to Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s office and then to the District Building.
“We are here because our education is on the line,” one student told Union City. “We have no teachers. All our counselors have been laid off.
I am a senior, I want to graduate, I want to go to college, I want to have a future but how can I do that without a school counselor?” Senior Kelvin Sherman was suspended yesterday after his footage of DC cops assaulting a student Friday at a peaceful student protest was broadcast on news stations. While Rhee claims the layoffs are the result of a shortfall created when the D.C. City Council made additional cuts to the fiscal 2010 budget in August, many – including Council Chairman Vincent Gray, disagree. “Fenty and Rhee manufactured the budget crisis by hiring too many employees as a way to fire tenured teachers through the reduction in force (RIF) process, circumventing the union” explains Michelle Baskin, a former teacher with DCPS. “This is about racism, retribution and retaliation,” added former McKinley counselor Rhonda Robinson. “When I asked to see what ranking system they had supposedly used to RIF me they could show nothing.” Labor, community and faith leaders joined yesterday’s rally in solidarity with the protesting students. “An attack on you is an attack on every single union member of the Metropolitan Washington Council,” said Rick Powell, Political Coordinator for the Metro Council. “If there is no struggle, there will be no progress. It happened in Soweto, it’s happening in DC. Keep walking brothers and sisters.” “Our demands will not end with a conversation,” said student leader Ikechukwu Umez-Eronini, “We want an end to the disruption.We want our teachers reinstated.” Chanting “Sitting for our teachers, we shall not be moved” students sat down on the steps of 825 North Capitol and demanded that Rhee come down and meet with them, but the Chancellor’s staff said she was out of town. After a moment of silence for the teachers and support staff, students marched to the City Council building, where Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. (D – Ward 5) welcomed them from the steps of the City Council, “This is your building, your place. We are proud of you, you are the best, the brightest. Your voices are going to be heard.” Thomas was joined by Councilmembers Kwame Brown (D – At Large) and Yvette Alexander (D – Ward 7). Chanting “we voted you in, we’ll vote you out” students then marched into the Council building where Thomas had arranged an impromptu roundtable hearing. Councilmembers Gray, Thomas, Alexander, Kwame Brown, Barry (D- Ward 8) and Cheh (D – Ward 3) voiced their support for the students. “The Mayor is scapegoating the City Council,” said Councilmember Alexander. “You need to continue to organize and confront the Mayor.” Thomas promised to introduce a resolution today supporting the student protesters. The Washington Teacher’s Union and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 20 are organizing a mass rally to save public education this Thursday October 8th, 4:30p at Freedom Plaza, 14th and Pennsylvania NW.

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