The student news site of Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.

Equity Rally: A Coalition for the People

Educators join the AFT Union rally in Olympia

March 10, 2017

Drudging in freezing cold rain and muddy shoes, activists from all over the state are kept warm with hope as they fight against the possible defunding of public education.

On President’s day, educators and activists united in Olympia to form a line between the legislative building and the temple of Justice. Groups that support Planned Parenthood, fight against for-profit prisons, resist against deportation, and are firm against privatization of public schools all united to contact their local government.

Becca Ritchie, a fellow BAT, who was tired of seeing students struggle in class. “I see institutional racism in classrooms all the time. We need to see structure in this system,” Ritchie said.

Many educators rallied in response to Betsy Devos’ plan for public school education.

Feb. 7, Betsy Devos was sworn in as secretary of education. Devos is very outspoken on funding charter schools and private school, advocating for “educational choice.” However, her education plan on diverting funds for charter schools deeply concern public school educators.

National Public Radio reports her support for the AFC (American Federation for Children), which is a group that favors voucher programs—using state funds for private institutions.

One of the speakers at the rally, Julianna Dauble, an educator in Renton and does not accept Devos’ plan. “A lot of forces are converging. We are on the cusp of change. What we need now is to tax the rich and to support teachers. Washington has one of the worst tax systems, the working class has to pay a huge portion while the rich pay very little.”

AFT Washington is the educational union for state schools and public education. They organize committees for legal defense, auditing, human rights, and legislative power groups. The coordinator for AFT Washington is Jen Haggard-Mlynarek, the person who posted all of the banners on canvas. Haggard summarizes the union’s purpose to achieve equal education for all public schools and to promote social justice.

Educators such as Marc Hobbs and Beth Norman were in allegiance with AFT Washington, a union whose main goal is to have affordable education for all students. Them, along with educator group such as “Bad Ass Teachers” AKA BATs and the Owl group, displayed several banners in plastic bags.

Rally attendants were gathered around the capitol to hear personal stories from many of the speakers. From the prayers of the Yakima natives, to the chants of activists like “if you hurt our schools, you hurt us,” to local community leaders.

Yet even with all the communal support, there was some lash back. One woman held a sign saying, “divert funds for illegals and refugees to public schools.” She began yelling during some of the speeches, but was soon blocked by some of the other people.

At noon, people began to pour into the legislative building to talk with their local legislatures. Senators and House of representatives both had filled aisle seats along with crowded halls of protestors. One by one, each and every person had their voices heard.

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