A raucous crowd of more than 600 teachers and parents blasted potential state budget cuts for K-12 education during a rally today at Chaparral High School organized by the Clark County Education Association, the teachers’ union.
While leading state Democrats and school and union officials all spoke, some of the biggest applause lines were shouted from the gymnasium bleachers.
Audience members chanted “Recall (Gov. Jim) Gibbons” and called the Review-Journal “a rag” after Stephen Augspurger, the director of the principals’ union, the Clark County Association of School Administrators, cited political opposition from the “R-J editorial board.”
Thirteen-year-old Jakob Brounstein, an eighth-grader at Hyde Park Middle School, stole the limelight with an ornate speech that he later said was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama. Brounstein told the assembled that America had grown too decadent to support education.
“It seems America’s brightest minds are its least valued,” he said.
Picket signs like “Will teach for food” and “A pay cut is a tax increase” expressed anger at the governor’s recommendation to cut teachers’ salaries by 6 percent to help close a budget gap brought on the economic crisis.
Another sign, “Taxes not axes,” uttered what was missing from politicians’ speeches — the mention of any new taxes. The sign holder was Joan Kissling, a science teacher at Brinley Middle School.
Instead of cutting the budget, Kissling said the state needed to raise taxes “on food, whatever it takes.”
In their speeches, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley and Sens. Steven Horsford, D- Las Vegas, and Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, all sympathized with the crowd but did not give any specifics on how they would increase revenues or preserve programs.
After the rally, Woodhouse re-affirmed Democrats’ commitment to overhaul the budget and prioritize what should be cut and spared.
In an interview, Terri Janison, president of the Clark County School Board, said she was frustrated by the political process in Washington. Early promises of $179 million in direct federal aid for the district now seemed threatened by a Senate compromise that would remove education funding from the economic stimulus bill.
“It was dangled in front of us, now it’s pulled back,” she said.
Contact reporter James Haug at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-374-7917.Slideshow