On Thursday, February 5, 2015, approximately 200 people showed up at the 11th Annual Legislative Forum at the Catskill Regional Teacher Center. This annual forum has never been so successful. Last year less than 30 were present. A horde of parents and teachers packed the auditorium at the Bugbee School on State Street, filled the stage behind the table of legislators, and overflowed out into the hallway. Congressman Chris Gibson, Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, Assemblyman Pete Lopez, Assemblyman Bill Magee, and aides from the officers of Senator James Seward and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand were present to answer questions.
Many attendees came as guests of Oneonta Area for Public Education, and were asked to prepare a statement for the forum that began with “Because I Care…” Unfortunately, time was limited and we were not given the opportunity to read these statements. Fortunately, the energy of the attendees was high and the calling clear: We must stand united to defend public education from the onslaught of Governor Cuomo’s reform agenda. Our schools are under threat due to lack of funding, excessive testing, teacher evaluations tied to test scores, the potential for school closings, state takeover of schools, loss of local control, and the expansion of charter schools.
We invite you to maintain your energy and the spirit of togetherness and join us in Muller Plaza on Main St. Oneonta at 4:30 pm on Thursday, February 26, 2015 for a “Because I Care” rally! All who attend will be given a chance to speak their because I care statements. Grab a hot drink at one of Oneonta’s locally-owned coffee shops, and dress warmly! Bring your family. Bring your kids. The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy. This will be a real life lesson in civics and a call to end the complacency in the fight to preserve quality public education!
Bring a rally sign that is not attached to a stick (or it could be viewed as a weapon). It does not have to be elaborate and can be as simple as a print-out on plain white paper. Add a short “Because I care” statement of your own … or use one of these:
Because I Care,
- My children will opt out of state exams.
- I want the Gap Elimination money restored to schools.
- I want my child’s education to be developmentally appropriate.
- I want to teach fiction.
- I want my child to be prepared for life, not a test.
- I don’t want my child’s teacher to be evaluated on test scores.
- I don’t want testing to dominate education.
If you are willing, we will take a picture of your sign (with or without you in the picture) and post them on Facebook and Twitter. #becauseicare
The event promises to be exciting! We hope to see you there.