Hundreds Of Utah Teachers March In SLC For Education Funding
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Hundreds of educators marched from downtown Salt Lake City to the Utah State Capitol as they pleaded with lawmakers for more public education funding.
“Hopefully they will listen and consider why we’re doing this,” teacher Molly Sprague said on Friday.
Salt Lake Education Association vice president Mike Harman said the group was pushing for a six percent increase in per-pupil spending.
“That’s a great place to get started — let’s start with six (percent),” Harman said.
Educators pointed out that the state still ranks near the bottom in the nation in per-pupil funding. They said they would like to see additional money go toward smaller class sizes, as well as more counselors and substitutes.
Some lawmakers weren’t entirely receptive to the supposed “walkout,” which took place after classes were dismissed early in the Salt Lake City School District.
LIVE: A view from Chopper 5 as educators march to the Utah Capitol to protest for more funding.
Posted by KSL 5 TV on Friday, February 28, 2020
In a statement issued before the march, House Speaker Brad Wilson said SLEA did not reach out to lawmakers to discuss the group’s concerns before announcing the demonstration.
“We strongly believe there are more productive ways to express concern which avoid the unnecessary disruption of the education of Utah students and the inconvenience for parents who may have to adjust work schedules to accommodate the walkout,” the statement read.
Wilson’s statement also noted that annual funding for public education had already increased over the past five years by a billion dollars, or 37.1%, from $2.8 billion to $3.8 billion, and that Utah dedicates the fifth-highest percentage of available state funds.
Harman estimated as many as 1,000 teachers took part in the walk “for” students.
“It makes me emotional,” one teacher said during the march. “It makes me proud to be a teacher and it makes me feel passionate to know there’s a great group out here representing Utah’s children.”
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