June 9: Rally Against Teacher Layoffs in Charlotte

Tues., June 9, 2009

Marshall Park
3rd St & S. McDowell St
Charlotte, NC

March to School Board meeting at Government Center that starts at 6:00pm.

Article on Rally For Teachers that took place the day before:
Families, faculty rally for laid-off teachers
By Ann Doss Helms,, June 8, 2009

About 50 students, parents and teachers protested teacher layoffs this afternoon, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools police blocked entrances to the parking lot where the rally was being held.

“What's up with that? It's public property. Why can't we park here?” said Marisa Foster, who has kids at Greenway Park Elementary, McClintock Middle and East Mecklenburg High.

A teacher issued an e-mail call last week for people upset with job cuts to gather at 5 p.m. at the uptown Education Center. That teacher did not contact CMS officials or offer public identification, saying that would be “dangerous” in the climate of fear over job cuts.

Shortly before 5, CMS law enforcement cars were parked beside both entrances to the Education Center lot, which has dozens of spaces. Officers standing in both driveways said they were not letting anyone coming to the rally to park there. They said they need to preserve spaces for Metro School's graduation at the nearby Blake Hotel.

Metro, a school for severely disabled students, has a 7 p.m. ceremony for 16 graduates.

CMS spokeswoman LaTarzja Henry said the whole parking lot was not blocked. She insisted only one entrance, closest to the Blake Hotel, was closed and that rally participants could have parked on the other side of the building.

Parents and students trickled in, parking on the streets and walking to the lot. Their messages ranged from 8-year-old Anna Keener's hand-lettered plea for a Sharon Elementary teacher – with “We Love Her” written inside a heart – to a high schooler brandishing “Hey Peter, You're Fired,” a reference to Superintendent Peter Gorman.

Participants included several Myers Park High families and about two dozen students from East Meck, led by civics/economics teacher Josh Swartzlander.

Swartzlander said he moved from Ohio three years ago to take the East Meck job. “I love my job and I feel like I'm good at it. I never thought I would leave my job because of something like this,” he said.

Swartzlander said he's being transferred to a middle school, based on low seniority. Such transfers are based on shrinking enrollment, rather than budget cuts that have led CMS to eliminate about 1,300 jobs for 2009-10.

Sophomore Jonathan Garcia, one of his students, said it's still the wrong move. “He pays attention to us, you know. He understands us,” Jonathan said, adding that students have made gains on test scores.

With no organized program, a few high school students started making speeches. Kelly McClintock, who is graduating from Providence High, compared the current situation to the Industrial Revolution, when “bosses wouldn't let people organize.”

“Something's not right,” he said. “They're letting go some of our best teachers.”

Another anti-layoff rally is planned for Tuesday, before the school board's meeting. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators is urging people to gather at 5 p.m. in Marshall Park, next to the Education Center, then march to the 6 p.m. meeting at the Government Center across the street.

Also see:
NC Association Of Educators

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