Educators rallied in the parking lot of Haverhill High School then continued to The Park in Andover last Tuesday afternoon, making a cry to lawmakers to push forward with new school funding legislation and otherwise prevent budget cuts and layoffs that could result from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
The event, “Care-A-Van for Education Justice,” was organized by Merrimack Valley Educators United, a coalition of local teachers unions. Members of the Haverhill Education Association, Andover Education Association, and Massachusetts Teachers Association all joined the rally.
“Right now, schools are suffering from uncertainty and fear mongering about the economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Anthony Parolisi, president of the Haverhill Education Association.
“We haven’t heard from the state whether or not Chapter 70 funds are going to be fully funded," Parolisi added. "We haven’t heard whether or not they are going to keep their promise to the students of the Commonwealth with The Student Opportunity Act in its first year."
The Student Opportunity Act, signed into law in 2019, requires the state to invest $1.5 billion in new K-12 school funding over the next seven years. The law was supposed to take effect this year, but it’s unclear if the funding will make its way into the state’s schools now.
“Across the state there are cuts being made, there are teachers being laid off,” Parolisi said. “These are choices that we simply cannot accept as educators and parents and we want to make sure every local official and every state representative understands that we reject austerity.”
The event began with speeches from Haverhill-based educators.
“Now more than ever it is important for federal, state and local governments to each stand behind our educators and students to ensure that education stays on track,” said Maureen Zuber, a support professional for the Haverhill Education Association.
“Now more than ever education should be a top priority," Zuber said.
Following the speeches, a car parade began. With horns honking, participants headed to Haverhill City Hall, then down route 125 to downtown Andover.
They ended at The park in Andover, where more people addressed the crowd.
“The state and federal government need to step up and fully fund public education wherever local revenues fall short,” Andover Education Association President Matthew Bach said to the crowd. “With towns saying that they are experiencing projections of reduced revenue, the state should be stepping with alternative forms of revenue."