SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hundreds of educators and supporters took over the steps of Springfield City Hall Thursday evening for a rally they dubbed ‘Fund Our Future.’
The Springfield rally took place simultaneously with two other big rallies – one in Boston and the other in Pittsfield. Educators were calling on the state legislature and the governor to increase funding in public schools and colleges and universities.
Students as young as a first-grader helped to energize the crowd at the rally. Alex Fleming was among the more than 500 people at City Hall, urging the state legislature to allocate more funding for education.
“We were having a big rally for our school,” Fleming, a first-grader, told 22News. “And we need for our students to have more money for our school to have more classes to learn more stuff.”
The group is pushing for the passage of two pieces of education funding legislation; the Cherish Act, which would increase funding for higher education, and the Promise Act, which focuses on public schools. If passed, Springfield schools would see $94-million more per year in state funding.
They want more than $1 billion per year more in funding for public schools and more than $500 million more per year for colleges and universities.
“There will be more for districts where there’s, you know, a real need,” said Eve Weinbaum, a member of the, MA Society of Professors. “Where’s there’s inequality and where they’re really lacking.”
Weinbaum said the funding increase could help reduce classroom sizes and ensure students at all levels – have a well-rounded education.
“We’ve seen a lot of the things that are essential to schools being cut, including school libraries, music programs, art programs, drama programs,” Weinbaum told 22News.
For little Alex, the massive rally was a lesson in public speaking. “It felt like I was having a big dream come true,” he said.
Both bills are still sitting in the state legislature, but teachers are hopeful lawmakers will soon pass them.