Hundreds and hundreds of students and teachers took to Broadway in front of City Hall on Monday afternoon and evening for a passionate rally meant to draw attention to the need for funding the schools.
It was a rally that came just before a major meeting and vote by the City Council Monday night, Feb. 12, regarding millions of dollars needed by the schools to avoid layoffs announced on Feb. 9.
“I am out here today because nothing is more important to students than our teachers and I wanted to support my teachers,” said Angel Hernandez, a fifth-grader at the Parlin School. “It’s really important for us because without teachers, there is not more education. Education is really important because without education you can’t get a job and without a job you can’t do anything.”
Students and teachers at the rally said the idea came from the students when they heard about the budget crisis in the schools, and heard that some of their teachers could be laid off. The response, said 5th grade teacher and Union president Kim Auger, was one of action amongst the kids.
She said they were ready to make their voices heard, as they believe that it is their education that will suffer, she said.
“We want to save our schools, our teachers and our curriculum,” said Auger as the rally began. “This isn’t about blaming the City Council or the mayor. It’s to show the support we have and our concern and how much this does matter.”
At the time of the rally – prior to the vote Monday night that averted layoffs – Auger said they were looking at 110 layoffs effective on Feb. 16. Some 58 of the layoffs were teachers in her union. Plus, she said, there was talk that more were on the way if the gap wasn’t fill by City funds.
“I have 20 kids in my fifth grade classroom,” she said. “If these layoffs occur on Friday, I’ll have 27. That’s seven more kids in just one class in a day’s time.”
Union Vice President Peter Lahey, a history teacher at Everett High, said the rally was a learning experience for the young people – showing them the power of supporting one another in making their voices heard.
“It’s ended up being a real bonding experience between the students and educators,” he said. “This is all supervised with teachers and parents and everyone is respectful. Really, it’s the kids who are the real victims of budget cuts. We want to make sure they have all the services required for a good education. I think these kids really just want to see the City is committed to their futures.”
The rally continued in front of City Hall all afternoon, with the numbers swelling near the beginning of the City Council meeting. Inside the City Hall, the Chambers reached maximum capacity well before the meeting started, with many members of the public having to be turned away due to space constraints.
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Khari Garcia, right, a seventh grader at the Madeleine English School joined several friends from his class on Monday afternoon to make their opposition known regarding the school funding decision.
Caroline DeSouza, a seventh grader at the Parlin, shows her support for the teachers at her school.
Hundreds of students from schools all over the district showed up at City Hall to call for school funding.
Fifth grader Angel Hernandez, right, and friends came to City Hall to support their teachers.
Teacher’s Union President Kim Auger and Vice President Peter Lahey in front of City Hall Monday.
After an intense meeting with Mayor Carlo DeMaria on Monday afternoon that lasted over an hour, Supt. Fred Foresteire came out of City Hall with school officials in the midst of the rally.