Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) – Hundreds gathered at the Capitol this afternoon for the second education rally hosted by the Michigan Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
“Public education is the cornerstone to our democracy,” Kelly Patterson, a high school teacher at the International Academy in Troy said. She said too many people underestimate the importance of education.
“That’s the beauty of public schools is we attempt to educate everyone… everyone not just a certain select group of kids,” Patterson said.
Patterson, like many teachers, didn’t choose this career path for the money but says it’s difficult to get kids the proper education they need with such little funding.
“We teachers we do this profession out of a labor of love, we certainly don’t do it to get rich and I think that gets taken advantage of. A lot of teachers spend a lot of their own money to buy classroom supplies, which is ridiculously sad because they don’t make that much money to start with,” Patterson said.
One student from Fisher Magnet Upper Academy in Detroit told the story of her eighth-grade experience.
“We have a gym but no gym teacher. I haven’t had a math teacher in a year. Our dean had to cover the class because there were no substitutes. My science teacher left halfway through the year and I didn’t have a science teacher for the rest of the year,” the student said.
“Quality teachers are leaving because they just can’t emotionally take it anymore and that’s a really sad thing for our kids and our society,” Patterson said, adding, “The thing that drives teachers nuts is people who make decisions about education and education policy that have no idea what goes on in the classroom,” Patterson said.
She said she’s thankful Michigan has a governor who wants to change that cycle.
“I love that Governor Whitmer is pro-education and really pushing for funding and I really hope that people realize that it’s not really a partisan issue. Kids are our most precious commodity,” Patterson said.
Governor Whitmer, who has kids of her own in the public school system, told the crowd there is no one more important to her than teachers.
“I’ve got news for the people in this building… everyone says they love Michigan, but you do not love Michigan if you don’t love the children of Michigan,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said at the rally.
“I hope they see us and I hope they say wow…. they’re here, they’re not going away and they’re not gonna shut up,” Patterson said.