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Teachers crowd Pa. Capitol in protest of proposed education cuts

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 13 2012 04:17:19 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 13 2012 05:14:21 PM CDT

The message that echoed through the state Capitol Wednesday was loud and straightforward, "No more cuts!"

HARRISBURG, Pa. -

The message that echoed through the state Capitol Wednesday was loud and straightforward, "No more cuts!"

Hundreds of educators from across Pennsylvania rallied against proposed cuts to public education.

Armed with signs and fueled with frustration, the crowd piled into the Capitol rotunda and made their voices heard.

"Save our kids. Save our kids," shouted the crowd.

A group of more than 100 teachers from the Reading School District was among them. They protested against Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget that includes cuts to public schools.

"Because of your barbaric budget cuts, educational opportunities for children all across the commonwealth have been disseminated," said Bryan Sanguinito, who was one of several speakers from across the state.

Sanguinito is the president of the Reading Education Association. He fired up the crowd and said the cuts in Reading are deep, $18.3 million to be exact. The cuts forced furlough notices to 170 teachers.

"We must support public education, instead of private corporations," Sanguinito said. "Our students deserve better."

The teachers hoped their message would strike a nerve with the governor, but on the other hand, some people in the Capitol thought the proposed cuts are needed to keep spending under control.

Among them, Pa. Sen. Mike Folmer, a Republican who represents part of Berks County. He said our students are important, but the state spends $304 per second on education.

"I totally feel for the teachers. I really do. Nobody wants to see anyone laid off. It's not fun, but I have to look at the overall scenario for the state going forward," Folmer said.

The state Department of Education issued a statement Wednesday that read, in part, "Traditional public education establishment organizations continue to fault the governor for the loss of the federal stimulus dollars that flowed into the state's education system. The previous administration reduced the state's support of public education and backfilled and artificially inflated it to an unsustainable level."

The department said school districts were cautioned about the loss of funding. Still, educators came out in the masses to fight back.

"We are here to fight for our rights," they shouted.

The rally was organized by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union.