New York teachers are vowing to protest in the wake of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to layoff thousands of educators.
"Mr. Mayor, it’s not going to happen, and enough is enough!" shouted Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, as he whipped up a roaring crowd at the UFT’s spring conference in midtown New York.
A ballroom-full of educators rose to their feet, clapping and chanting, "Enough is Enough."
A surprise guest, Wisconsin State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, the man who led 13 fellow lawmakers out-of-state in order to block Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation, received a standing ovation from the crowd.
The UFT, along with many other unions, plan to draw tens of thousands of supports for the May 12 march from City Hall and other sites to Wall Street to oppose Bloomberg’s cuts and demand the big banks start paying their fair share.
In Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a crowd of more than 100 parents, students, and teachers filled the middle school auditorium to protest budget cuts aimed at music, arts, the library, and physical education.
Speaker after speaker championed the academic, social and developmental benefits of the arts, including Sally House, a longtime music teacher in the district whose retirement was approved by the board the same night.
"Pottstown has a longstanding tradition of excellence in its music program," said House, who is currently the chairwoman of the music department. "to expect the music department will be able to serve all of our students with the equivalent of possibly three fewer teachers is absolutely ludicrous," she said.
"It would be like taking a tree and cutting off its roots and expecting it to grow," House added. "Don’t give them less than they have now. So many of them already have less."
But perhaps the most moving testimonials came from the students themselves.
Rachel Levengood, a sixth-grade honor student, told the board that "soldiers are fighting for our freedom overseas, and it’s a shame we have to fight for our education here in a free land."
Teachers in California are planning a week of action May 9 through 13 to oppose their state’s budget cuts.
Sacramento city leaders got an earful from city workers and educators alike when they announced plans for $39 million in cuts, which could put 366 jobs on the chopping block.
Meanwhile, many GOP leaders appear to recognize they’ve gone too far in supporting some of the Republican Party’s more extreme plans for austerity.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) both indicated they’re looking for alternative to Rep. Paul Ryan’s extremely controversial budget plan to cut and privatize Medicare.
Even the House Speaker distanced himself from Ryan when Boehner called the Congressman’s budget plan just an “idea,” adding he wasn’t “wedded” to a single budget framework.
Clearly, the GOP is paying attention to these anti-austerity protests and the polls, which strongly indicate voters want to maintain their social services, and especially Medicare.