(Note from Betsy: NYSUT projected 2,000 would be at the rally. Below features what Clarisse could phone in from the midst of the action. We will have complete coverage when reporters and photographers get back. In the meantime here’s a link with video and here’s a link to one report.)
Karen Scharff of Citizen Action leads the group in the chant “They say cut back, we say fight back.”
Assemblyman Tom Abinanti praises those who work in education. He urges the group to keep up the fight to reject a proposed budget that “cares more about millionaires than it does about our kids and our future.”
Assemblyman Peter Rivera says he doesn’t feel the cold. (My cell phone says it’s 38 degrees.) He feels the heat from all the people who have been protesting the proposed budget. He’s urging everyone to come back tomorrow for a 2 p.m. rally.
Barbara Bowen of Professional Staff Congress is leading the group in chants of “tax the rich, not the poor, stop the war on teachers.”
Philip Smith of United University Professions leads the group in chants of “Education is a right, we’ve got to fight fight fight.”
Billy Easton of the Alliance for Quality Education yells. “Are we prepared to take cuts for our kids for tax breaks to millionaires?” The group shouts back “No.”
“Are we prepared for the Governor to hand out pink slips to teachers?”
The crowd yells back “No.”
Mike Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers is on. He starts with the chant “We don’t cut kids. We don’t cut kids. We don’t cut kids.” He’s shouting out questions to the crowd. They are shouting back yes and no. It’s hard to keep up.
Kathy Garrison of CSEA is up now. My hand is so cold!
Ellen Schuler Mauk of Suffolk Community College thanks people for coming out. Her message is that if these cuts go through, more than $1 billion will have been cut from public higher education since 2008. In public higher ed, “we keep doing more with less and our reward for doing more with less is much — more — less.”
Now people are chanting “Keep your promise!”
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee says “We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are first class learning centers and every child has the opportunity for an adequate education.”
“Tax the rich” is the chant being led by Sen. Bill Perkins.
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan is on now. She’s telling people to keep up the fight and thanking the teachers especially. She’s thanking teachers for the work they do helping students and she’s equating the future with this generation of students.
“But you need to do it (teach our children) with the proper resources,” Nolan said.
Some of the lawmakers in the crowd I’ve seen so far are Sen. Bill Perkins and Assemblyman Sam Roberts.
Kenneth Brynien just got up. He’s talking about how services provided to state’s citizens are under attack.
He just asked the crowd if the wealthy should share in the pain. The crowd roared back “yes.”
He’s talking about the Committee to Save New York and how it’s funding the ad campaigns to convince people to cut services.
Terry Melvin from the state AFL-CIO is urging people to keep up the fight. “This is the time to let them know what we stand for.” (Melvin is secretary-treasurer.)
NYSUT’s Dick Iannuzzi just went on. He is shouting “This is what democracy looks like!”
NYSUT ‘s Andy Pallotta is taking to the stage. He’s the first speaker. It’s amazingly loud right now with the cheering and a group of high school students from Northville schools (near Speculator) just came in carrying a casket that says “Gov. Cuomo you are killing our future” while other students hold a sign with a play on the Speak, Hear and Say No evil.
Their signs read “Speak no funding. Hear no impacts. See no future.”
Andy just started revving up the crowd. “They say cutbacks, we say fight back” has become a chant.
Labor music to a gospel beat is playing at the West Side Capitol Park. People are starting to stream in from their appointments at the Legislative Office Building. There’s a v-e-r-y long banner that says “Stop the cuts to education funding NOW!” with hundreds of signatures from the Westchester rally last week. It looks really cool.
Some of the other signs are “Deer Park parents say no to cuts”
“Tax the millionaires” and “Proud to be a teacher.”
Now lots of state workers from their office buildings are joining in. Yellow PEF hats, scarves and gloves are mixing in.