Hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers will be demonstrating in Washington this Saturday as part of a nationwide demonstration to show support for public schools—and their disavowal of Trump’s education budget.
In D.C., the March for Public Education will start at the Washington Monument and end at the U.S. Department of Education. National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García, among others, including American Federation of Teachers’ executive vice president, Mary Cathryn Ricker, will be speaking.
The march supports a wide-ranging list of issues: a “whole-child” approach to education; finding a solution to the student debt crisis; making sure schools are safe, inclusive spaces; preserving education funding; and opposing the expansion of school choice initiatives. According to the Washington Post, organizers expect several thousand protesters in the District of Columbia. There are also at least 12 other sister marches happening across the country, including in Detroit, Miami, Charlotte, N.C., and Laguna Beach, Calif.
The march comes on the tail end of a week of teacher advocacy in Washington. On Wednesday, many educators went to the Capitol to lobby for education funding. Then on Thursday, the American Federation of Teachers’ Teach conference kicked off, with president Randi Weingarten giving an impassioned speech against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ school choice policies.
Also this week, the House education budget moved forward, with a $2.4-billion cut from the Education Department’s budget—less than the $9.2 billion reduction proposed by President Donald Trump. The House budget eliminates the $2 billion Title II program that covers teacher training, as well as class-size reductions.
The House budget does not include the two big school choice investments Trump and DeVos made in their budget proposal, though: a $1 billion public school choice program under Title I, and a $250 million private school voucher program.
March organizers told the Washington Post they were inspired to organize this rally after attending the Women’s March on Jan. 21. “We’re educators that care about our profession, and we’ve just felt that public education is under threat,” one told the Post.
Temperatures in Washington on Saturday will reach 94 degrees, with 70 percent humidity. One supporter wrote on Facebook, “It does not reflect well on our judgment to march in the middle of the day during a heat advisory, but if it will promote equity for our schools, strengthen our teacher unions, and put the heat on [Betsy] DeVos and privateers of the Trump administration, then I will march to hell and back with the rest of the brave but foolish educators!”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.