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Teachers, parents, and students want their voices to be heard in regards to school funding. We are organizing 14 days of activism to allow people from around Georgia to express that they want educational funding to be a priority for the next four years. For the past 16 years, Georgia schools have been underfunded; this hurt Georgia students, but we are past that now and do not want to go back! The hunger strike and other activism is to show the seriousness of these issues, and our desire to keep full funding.
We praise Gov. Deal and the legislator for fully funding schools in 2018. We want this to be the new normal for schools, not a one time anomaly.
Our goal is to obtain pledges from the candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, and The Georgia Legislature that they they will seek to fully fund Georgia schools for the next four years.
The teachers of Georgia will have 14 opportunities to have their voices heard in a variety of ways throughout the hunger strike.
Wednesday 8/14: Open Letter from the Clergy of Georgia
From the Letter:
“We believe that full funding for Georgia’s school will lead to better opportunities and better futures for students from all socioeconomic levels--we believe the time has come for the state of Georgia to fulfill its obligation to students and teachers of our state."
Saturday 8/18: Brewery Day at Orpheus Brewery
Wednesday 8/22: Artist Support Day
Sunday 8/26: March for Education at the Beltline
[Why are you hunger striking?]To express my solidarity with educators who support full funding for Georgia public education.
-Dr. Mell Johnson, Retired Teacher
“I'm going on hunger strike to better kids education by giving the full funding they need."
-Julian Franklin, Fulton County Schools
“I believe in students and closing achievement gaps. I believe that it is our responsibility to educate our students with the resources needed. I will fight for that.”
-Jen Ray, Gwinnett County Schools
“[I am hunger striking] to increase funding of education.” - Melissa Tilly, Fulton County Schools
“For the kids who are at risk of losing free and reduced lunch even though that might be their only meal of the day.” -Veronica Delanuez, Cherokee County
“For better educational opportunities for children.” - Rev. Gail Atchison, Augusta, GA
Alex Robson's comments on beginning the hunger strike:
My name is Alex Robson, and I am teacher at Gwinnett County Public School. At 12am today I stopped eating, and will not start again until August 26th. A total of 14 days. I am joined in this hunger strike by dozens of other educators throughout the state.
I am here today to explain the reasons for this hunger strike and our desired outcome.
This may be the first hunger strike in history not to try to change something, but to keep it the same. In 2018, Georgia public schools were fully funded for the first time in 16 years. We are hunger striking because we want this to continue, and we want Georgia public schools to be a priority in our upcoming election.
Georgia schools are funded based on a formula written in 1985. School districts count present students and send those numbers to the state. They then use that number to determine how much funding each school district should receive. For 16 years, the State of Georgia has not fulfilled that obligation, falling short over 9.2 billion dollars in total.
When teachers see a number like 9.2 billion, we don’t think about the dollars---we think about the art classes that were cancelled, the furlough days that were imposed on staff, the music classes that did not have enough instruments, and the struggling students who could not get the support they needed.
We cannot go back to rectify this problem of the past---we can only look forward to ensure that this will never happen again.
2018 is a new beginning. When Gov. Nathan Deal led Republicans and Democrats in our state to fully fund our schools, he said this is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is a student issue.
Already teachers can see that change. Gwinnett hired 10 new safety resource officers, created a Expansion of the Student Mentoring Program to serve Hispanic students;and teachers and staff received a 2% cost of living adjustment, which occured in this year of full funding. Today our students are safer, teachers are more fairly compensated, and this is just the beginning. Other counties have similar results of hiring new safety personnel, keeping class sizes steady, and offering new programs for struggling students.
I, and other teachers all over the State of Georgia, will stop eating on Monday to tell the Gubernatorial and Legislative candidates that the students of Georgia cannot wait another 16 years for full funding. That is why we are here appealing to Stacey Abrams, Brian Kemp, Sarah Riggs Amico, and Geoff Duncan.
As I stand here today, I am overcome with many emotions while beginning my fast. I am afraid of the pain my body will feel, and how my community may perceive our actions. I wonder is this the right time? Will my voice be heard? Is our vision too ambitious? But the echoes of these questions quickly fade when I see our new safety resource officer walking the hallway, or the new program we will be able to implement with Spanish speaking students.
Education is one of our civil rights battles. Our funded classrooms offers freedom to our students of all colors, all religions,and all socioeconomic backgrounds. Teachers are the defenders of the American dream. And we are here today to defend it for the next four years.
But more than fear, I feel proud. I am proud to join a long list of those who have used hunger as a way to have their voice heard. Suffragettes fighting for women’s right to vote, Gandhi fighting against the caste system in India, and now teachers in Georgia who know that education is a civil right---a fulfillment of a promise declared in our Declaration of Independence---”life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
My classroom is not a classroom, but a step in that pursuit of happiness. A step toward self reliance---a step towards college, or business ownership, or even Governor of our great state. Just as Sonny Perdue graduated from Warner Robins High School, or Roy Barnes from South Cobb---today in our classrooms we teach the future of our state. They will be doctors, and lawyers and---as teachers in Plains, Georgia, certainly know---even the president.
Please go to our website hungryforeducation.com