Save Texas Schools will rally, protest budget cuts

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Congress Ave. will be blocked off Saturday morning as thousands march to the Capitol protesting budget cuts to Texas education.

The major education groups in Texas make up Save Texas Schools, a nonpartisan, statewide coalition organizing a downtown march and rally for Saturday to protest proposed budget cuts to education, Annie Billups, lead project coordinator and education graduate student, said.

“We have legislators who will often say, ‘well no one ever showed up to speak out about this supposed problem,’ and we’re aiming to show them that there’s a lot of concern about this, that we really want change and we want our public schools funded directly,” Save Texas Schools organizer Gabriel Estrada said.

Billups said Save Texas Schools wants $2 billion to go back into education. Many districts have lost librarians and special education services while increasing class sizes and channeling millions into high-stakes testing, Billups said.

“We have tightened the grip on teachers, on principals and administrators to get their kids to pass these tests that are full of statistical error while cutting their resources, so it just doesn’t make sense,” Billups said.

Budget cuts could also affect higher education. The Texas House of Representatives proposed to cut $108 million from the University starting in September, and the Senate proposed to cut $87.9 million, according to Billups.

Mexican-American studies senior Lucian Villaseñor said a report for the University intending to make education more cost-effective recommends privatization for some resources, which President William Powers Jr. endorsed on Jan. 29.

If this plan were implemented, it would privatize some student services, such as meal plans, and outsource University staff, custodial and food jobs, Billups said. 

“They’re trying to sell it as if we’re getting this new, sleek sexy UT, but that’s not the case,” Villaseñor said.

Students from the University, including University Democrats, Longhorn League of United Latin American Citizens, Nerd Fighters and students from the College of Education will join people from across Texas in the march.

“The point is to make a big emotional impression on legislators,” Billups said. “You know, if they think that no one’s really paying attention to their sketchy legislation, then they’re gonna think they can get away with it ... but if they see that thousands of people have traveled from El Paso and the Valley and Alpine just to march, just to show up and have their signs at the Capitol, then that’s moving.”

The Save Texas Schools March and Rally will begin at the Congress Ave. Bridge at 10:45 on Saturday, and the rally will begin at noon and continue until 1:30.