Teachers rally at Capitol calling for more education funding


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

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Posted on December 6, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 6 at 7:40 PM

AUSTIN -- Busloads of teachers and educators gathered at the State Capitol on Friday to voice their concerns about the lack of government attention to education. They said it's time for lawmakers to step up, or step out.

On the south steps of the Capitol on a bitterly cold morning came some heated words.

"What we're dealing with in education and healthcare and immigration are people [at] the federal, state and local levels that aren't listening to us and our families," said Ken Zarifis, the president of Education Austin.

Teachers and educators said several social justice issues come into play with public education.

"Immigration, workers rights, voting rights and healthcare," said Zarifis. "We're here to call out our federal state and local officials to be accountable. They are going to be held accountable. "

The rally was called Texas Hold 'Em Accountable.

"You can come on camera and say you support teachers, but you defund public education by $5 billion," said Richard Jung, an immigration attorney.  "That shows absolutely no support for teachers."

"They are not funding and investing in programs like Early Childhood," said Montserrat Garibay, the vice president of Certified Employees Teachers Union Austin. "That's why we're giving them an F, because they are not investing on our most precious assets, which are our children. If we don't educate them now, we're going to be paying later."

While a Republican majority leads state government, rally leaders say both sides of the political aisle are to blame when it comes to under-funding education on all levels of government.

"If you look at the education reform, you will see this is not just a Republican issue," said Zarifis. "The Obama administration is supportive of rates to the top and test scores and whatnot. So, this transcends labels. These issues we're talking about are not partisan. They are universal."

The rally at the Capitol and others around the nation were in conjunction with the National Council of Urban Education Associations.