3,000 Pack Capitol in Support of Public Education
They came by car, by bus, by train, by foot. They came from Salt Lake, from Logan, from Moab, from Cedar City, from Ogden, from St. George and everywhere in between. A crowd estimated at near 3,000 – including teachers, parents, students, school board members, superintendents, administrators, school support personnel and many others – packed the Utah State Capitol Rotunda the evening of March 9 calling on state legislators to support public education.
“(Utah teachers) have watched class sizes creep up and student resources dwindle for years. Despite our best efforts in the classroom, the lack of funding hinders our ability to provide the education we know our students deserve,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh as she addressed rally participants. “The end result is that we are now seeing many of our best educators leave the classroom because of increasing demands, dwindling resources and an overall feeling that our profession is no longer respected because more time is spent talking about how to fire teachers rather than how to support them.”
Gallagher-Fishbaugh was joined on the stage by Utah School Boards Association President Kristie Swett, Utah PTA President Liz Zentner, Murray School District Superintendent Steve Hirase and Prosperity 2020 Chairman Rich Kendell. The rally was sponsored by the Utah PTA, the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah School Superintendents Association, the Utah Education Association and the Utah School Employees Association.
A Utah Highway patrol officer who has covered events at the Capitol for 20 years called the rally the largest and loudest he has ever seen. Doug Wright, a broadcaster who has covered events at the Capitol for decades, also called it the biggest he had ever seen.
"We need to stop being the silent majority and let the legislators hear our voices," said Zentner.
“I call on each of you now to reach out to your legislators today,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “Write a personal note to your legislator telling them how you feel about the public education budget. Or better yet, invite them out to meet with you.” Following the rally, participants inundated Capitol staff with notes written to their legislators. The handwritten personal notes to legislators requested support for public education and Governor’s budget.
Tweets from legislators during the rally:
Rep. Lee Perry: “#StandUp4UtahSchools rally at the State Capitol saw many great educators from Box Elder and Weber Counties.”
Rep. Craig Hall: “Great rally for education at the Capitol. Tons of people and lots of noise! Go teachers/parents!”
Rep. Patrice Arent: “Amazing rally of people who want a significant increase in funding for public schools.”
Rep. Stephen Handy: “Rally for public education. Let's get more funding.”