Success Stories > Rallies > Kalispell

Stand Up For Education rallies rock the state!

Kalispell rally report
Rally captain John Hughes reports: By all accounts, the rally was a huge success. Over 250 people were in attendance. Several legislators were present. The student speaker stole the show and was quoted the most in the newspaper along with our local business person. We got front page coverage in the Daily Inter Lake. Participants came from as far away as Libby and Polson.

“Large crowd gathers at FVCC to support funding”

By Karen Nichols of the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, March 2, 2003

More than 250 people attended a rally for education Saturday in the Eagle's Nest at Flathead Valley Community College. The event, called Stand Up for Education, was organized in an attempt to show public support for school funding at a time when the Legislature is faced with cutting more than $200 million from the state budget.

Other states have dealt with similar cuts while keeping school funding a priority, according to speakers.

Organizers handed out form letters stressing the importance of providing opportunity for a quality education. Those in attendance were instructed to add personal comments and send to Gov. Judy Martz and state legislators.

"To have a turnout like we did speaks volumes," said speaker Kala French, a senior at Flathead High School. "We realize that a lot of tough decisions have to be made when they create the budget, but schools need more money, and they're talking about cutting funding."

French, who plans to pursue a double major at Montana State University in Bozeman, emphasized that low wages for teachers in Montana already is a threat to undermine the future of the system.

The average teacher salary in Montana is $10,000 less than the national average of $41,000, according to a nationwide study conducted last year.

"With the budget crisis, nobody wants to let anything get worse here in Montana by taking money out of education," French said.

Speakers included: Ivan Lorentzen, professor at Flathead Valley Community College and District 5 school board member; Bob Nystuen, vice president at Glacier Bank; Bud Williams, District 5 interim co-superintendent; Robin Zeal, Whitefish teacher of the year in 2001; John Fuller, of the state board of education; and French.

Nystuen hammered home the message.

"Education is the cornerstone of our community," he said. "More and better educational opportunities create a better economy.

"After all, it's only our kids' futures that are at risk."

Stand Up For Education
1232 E. Sixth Avenue
Helena, Montana 59601
(406) 442-4250