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Teachers Demand Fairness
Texas teachers took their first day of Spring Break to lobby the legislature in Austin on March 14. Alliance/AFT and the NEA affiliate in Dallas combined to fill 6 buses, which was the largest delegation in the state. On shirts and signs, they demanded, "Great Public Schools for Every Texas Child" and "100% Solution." The later slogan protested public statements from legislatures indicating that getting 55% of Texas students through the testing procedure was "adequate." The teachers want 100%!
A crowd estimated at 1,000 gathered in front of the capitol at noon.
Republican State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn was one of the most popular speakers. Strayhorn pointed out that the penny-pinching legislature was creating problems that Texans would have to face in the future. She roared, "I'd rather spend $2,500 a year to keep a child in school than $16,000 a year to keep him in prison later!"
Several union leaders and legislators addressed the group. Speakers made it clear that House Bill#2, which had just passed in the House, would not help Texas. It contains what they termed a "phoney pay raise" with all kinds of loopholes to keep from paying teachers.
During that same day, the House was considering HB#3, an overall finance bill. Union leaders hoped to stop HB#3 because it would kill HB#2, and also because it provided for tax breaks for the 20% of Texans who make over $100,000/year while raising taxes for everybody who makes less.
Strayhorn explained the proposed legislation this way:"They changed from 'Robin Hood' to 'Robbing Everybody!'"