Stand Up For Education rallies
rock the state!
Billings rally report
Rally organizer Steve Henry reports: About 350 people turned up for the Billings rally, not including the 50 students in the band and 20 singers. (We have a feeling Steve and his crew had a better chance to get an accurate count than the Billings Gazette , which reported over 200.)
The event received great press, including four newspapers stories before and after the rally and coverage on all three TV news stations. In fact, two of the TV stations covered the event live! Seven area legislators showed up, both Republicans and Democrats.
“Public rallies for education”
By JEREMY RUSSELL of the Billings Gazette , March 3, 2003
People turned out from all over for the Stand Up For Education rally Saturday at Montana State University-Billings
The MSU-B Student Union Ballroom was packed, with a boisterous crowd of more than 200 community leaders, citizens, legislators, parents and children spilling into the hallways to make their support known for more cash for education.
"It's about the kids," said Bruce Whittenberg, the event's master of ceremonies. "It's about our children and how we prepare them for the future. ... We can take the path of despair and frustration or we can fund our schools, universities and colleges."
Martha Sheehy gave a reading of Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears A Who," which in part reads: "We've got to make noise in greater amounts."
"We need to reach (legislators) with our message, and it must be loud and it must be clear," Sheehy said. "There is still time for legislators and this state to do the right thing this session," she added to a loud burst of applause.
Lawmakers are meeting in Helena for their bi-annual legislative session. A budget shortfall of more than $250 million means money for schools and universities is short. The nonpartisan Stand Up For Education coalition is responding to what they call inadequate funding for the schools.
Randy Robertson, chairman of the Boulder Elementary Legislative and Advocacy Committee, said he spoke at the rally because he is a parent. He said he hears people complaining too much and sees them doing too little.
"We've got to ask legislators first of all to provide funding, but secondly we've got to spend that money wisely," he said. "I urge everyone in this room to get involved in education."
Jeremy Seidlitz turned out on behalf of students at MSU-B and MSU-Northern "just to get legislators to see the importance of education at K-12, as well as the college level," he said. "Where would anybody be without education?"
Senior High Student Body President Wynn McKittrick is involved in several extra-curricular activities that deal with younger students.
"I asked myself what does education mean to me and what I found out is I get to teach your children and that is one of the coolest things ever," she said.
"Without programs and schooling - things that are going to help me for the rest of my life - I wouldn't be the person that I am or the person that I'm going to become," she said.
Stand Up For Education organized rallies across the state Saturday - Missoula, Bozeman, Kalispell, Butte, Great Falls, Anaconda and Billings all held their own events.
"We're here today, folks, to stand up for education," Whittenberg said. More assemblies will be Monday in Miles City and Friday in Helena.