Virginia Organizing to protest healthcare, education cuts
Virginia Organizing chapters will hold rallies in Norfolk and Staunton on Wednesday as part of a national day of action to protect funding for public education and healthcare.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed $9 billion in cuts to public education. These cuts would eliminate after-school programs, climate change education, and anti-bullying initiatives. They would also eliminate funding for teacher training and reducing classroom size. These actions would cut taxes for millionaires and transfer public education funds to private and charter schools through vouchers. Budget plans continue to include huge cuts to Medicaid, as well.
“Children in Virginia deserve better than this plan,” said Del McWhorter, Virginia Organizing Chairperson. “It takes funding from their schools to give it to private schools many of them will never be able to attend. Vouchers sound good until you discover that private schools don’t have to accept all students and can expel any student they choose. They also don’t have to meet the same standards that public schools do for providing special education and therapies children need. If we privatize schools, many students will be left with nothing.”
South Hampton Roads leader Bernice Townes of Chesapeake commented, “Congress should not be influenced by Betsy DeVos’s negative attitude towards public schools. She called them a ‘dead end.’ Public schools are very much needed in our democratic system to ensure that all students get the quality education they deserve. Let’s make quality education obtainable for all students.”
“The lack of educational progress and burden of over-testing in public schools needs attention,” said Terry White, another leader from Chesapeake. “Congress should work with states to create legislation to strengthen public education not create reasons to fund already well funded private and charter schools. They shouldn’t eliminate education programs; they should strengthen them.”
“To me public education is the basis for having a prosperous and successful society,” said Charlotte Shnaider, SAW Chapter leader and former educator. “I used to teach music. I’m always a promoter of arts education because research shows that the brain develops better when kids are exposed to music and art.”
According to Jay Deck, another former educator, “We cannot afford to cut public education funds and think we can hold teachers and students accountable. Virginia is already in a crisis when it comes to hiring teachers. We need to hold our politicians accountable for our students’ education.”
In addition to protesting education cuts, these rallies will also call on Congress to refuse to cut health care spending.