The following post is from LYS Principal and “on the scene” reporter, Dr. Jerry Burkett. The drive to Austin from Fort Worth is not a terribly long drive and it is one that I have made many times in my life. But, this trip was different. After hustling home from a long, last day of school before spring break begins, battling an hour of traffic to get home, packing the house and the car, and eating dinner on the way, we drove the 3 1/2 hours to the state capital with great anticipation. We were attending the Save Texas Schools protest rally to be held on the steps of the State Capitol Building. We were joining what we were told through the net to be thousands of educators, parents, and concerned citizens to appeal to the Legislature to properly fund Texas schools. I don’t liken myself to be an activist nor do I pretend to be the next MLK or Jesse Jackson organizing and marching with thousands to plead my case for a cause. This was my first protest. In fact, this wasn’t even my idea, it was my wife’s who has so thoughtfully taken up this cause to inform the masses of people who do not know the truth behind this lack of funding to understand how this broken road has been traveled so far. She has seen only moderate success and felt the needs to be present for an important event and, in the process, teach our son a valuable life lesson that there are many things in life that are worth taking the time to fight for. However, once I felt comfortable with the idea of attending and participating in a protest, I began to feel more like an activist. I want to educate others on this topic, make my voice be heard, and hear the stories of countless others who have been rocked by this school funding crisis. I know the stories well in my own backyard; I want to know what the neighbors think. So, our trip began with a walk to a park just a few blocks away from the Capitol where a march was scheduled to begin at 11:00 am. By 10:00, masses were already starting to form. Crowds of people with signs, shirts, and umbrellas (to signify that it is raining in Texas and to use the state’s “rainy day fund”) were beginning to form in the park and in the street. The sight was amazing. Thousands of people forming to unite for one cause. Chants began…”Save Our Schools” and “Si se puede” were ringing out from the crowd. Socialists groups arrived and chanted their own rhetoric related to Madison, Wisconsin, and Cairo. But, this was no place for them. This day was for educators, students, and parents. The march began and we were led by a high school drum corps through the downtown streets of Austin. Traffic stopped to gawk, honk, threaten, and cheer as we passed. With the state basketball tournament and an NCAA track meet going on at the University of Texas, today was not a good day for a march to disrupt traffic in Austin. Marchers did not seem to care. As we zigzagged through the streets of Austin, I glanced down a side street to see more protesters joining the march. Our march has literally looped around the city in the form of a long snake of angry protesters moving their way to the state Capitol. By this point, my son ceased his march and I carried him the rest of way as he carried his tiny umbrella and sign that read, ” We elected the wrong Perry” which included a picture of Perry the Platypus from the Disney show Phineas and Ferb. My wife also marched carrying her sign that read, “Here’s my sono, don’t abort my child’s education” which included a picture of our sonogram of our son. It was a delightful hybrid of protest worthy issues combing school funding with the “emergency legislation” that the governor had declared related to sonograms and abortions. We made our way to the Capitol to find more people gathered with signs, shirts, and shouts. They were listening to speakers and live entertainment. We met up with some friends of ours and made our way to the VIP tent where we signed up to speak at the event and then moved to the front of the lines to the steps of the Capitol building just feet away from the speaker’s podium. We listened to the superintendents from Perrin-Whitt CISD who delivered an emotional speech about taking those who society deem as unacceptable and educating them was a badge of honor. We heard the mayor of San Antonio speak about how an uneducated society will not allow our state to be “open for business.” We heard the powerful words of a young man from Dallas talk to us about believing in him as he believes in us. And we heard the pleas of a former teacher of the year from Austin ISD who lost her job this year. We heard a choir sing and rappers rap. We heard teacher cries and student pleas. We stood united, emotional, sunburned, and angry. We cheered legislators who dared to show up and listen and jeered those who dared not. What was realized today was that this issue that we stood together to face was not a partisan issue. I stood with my family, fellow teachers, administrators, students, Democrats, and Republicans. I stood with parents, politicians, activists, communists, socialists, cops, and tourist. We stood together. Even though the liberal and conservative media outlets wrote their own levels of negative spin to point fingers and divert blame, we stood together. For once, this was not about politics, this was simply about doing what is right for the greater good of everyone, no matter who you voted for in 2008 or 2010 or who you plan to vote for in 2012. It wasn’t about that. It was about schools and doing what is necessary to fund our schools. Nothing more. I left today burned, tired, hungry, a little grumpy, dehydrated, and emotionally drained. But, for my son, who saw what getting together with a total of 11,000 people can do on a Saturday afternoon, I would gladly and willingly do it all again. Because our schools are worth it and he is worth it. If not me, who will?Jerry BurkettThink. Work. Achieve.Your turn…Follow Sean Cain on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation

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