AFT blue, with an accent of pink hearts, was on display May 17 as thousands of union members and other supporters of financial reform braved a cold rain to rally and march down K Street in Washington, D.C.
About two weeks after a similar rally on Wall Street calling for financial reform and policies that promote good jobs (see earlier story), the Washington event brought protesters to the K Street corridor, where the offices of highly paid lobbyists for many of the nation’s largest banks and corporations are located.
The event had a special AFT flavor. Many in the crowd wore pink heart stickers and carried signs to symbolize the AFT’s “Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips” campaign, which is calling for federal funding to help avert massive layoffs of educators in the coming school year.
AFT member Joel Hirschey, a science teacher at North Syracuse (N.Y.) Junior High School, spoke at the rally (photo below). Hirschey, who was recently laid off, developed a “living environment” program (now in its third year) that has shown remarkable success in getting at-risk students to earn the science credits they need to graduate from high school. “We bailed out Wall Street, and we bailed out the auto industry. Shouldn’t we do the same thing for kids?” he asked. If 300,000 educators are cut, he pointed out, “think how many students this will affect.”