Pittsburgh Teachers Union And Advocates Rally Against Federal Education Cuts

Sep 21, 2017

About two dozen people rallied outside of the Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

The group led by the union representing Pittsburgh Public School teachers, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, projected images of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos onto the building. The demonstrators included teachers, parents and students who said they were protesting the Trump Administration for what they called an anti-public education agenda.

Trump’s first proposed budget called for a more than $9 billion cut to education spending -- or 14 percent. 

Valerie Allman holds her 4-year-old daughter Lily outside of the Federal Building downtown. Allman also has an 11 year old son who attends a Pittsburgh Public School. She called DeVos' push for school choice an illusion. Her son has special needs and she said he was rejected from attending multiple Pittsburgh charter schools.
Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers president Nina Esposito-Visgitis says Pittsburgh schools haven’t recovered from losing millions of dollars in state funding under the Corbett administration from 2011 to 2013.

“We will not let them line the pockets of private corporations and billionaires at the expense of our students,” she said. “We will not let them dump money into vouchers and charter schools at the expense of our public schools.”

Kaleena Dunkel, a physical education teacher at Obama 6-12 in East Liberty, said many athletic initiatives have been cut from the school in the last 8 years because of decreased state and federal funding. That $9 billion decrease will only continue to have a negative impact, she said. 

“Class sizes will increase, programming will decrease, teacher effectiveness will be challenged and student success will most likely plummet,” Dunkel said.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill that would reject Trump’s proposed education funding cuts in 2018. Movement on the final budget won't likely happen until later this year.