Our (Grass) Roots are Showing

Our grass roots have been showing lately, and they are definitely black-and-gold. Yesterday, over 150 people stood on a street corner in Pittsburgh waving signs in support of state funding for public education. These included parents, students, teachers and principals, but also senior citizens, twenty-somethings, and plain old concerned community members. Staging a Mock Bake Sale, demonstrators passed out free cookies with the message, “We can’t sell enough cookies to close the budget gap in Pennsylvania’s schools.”

Our location in front of the Squirrel Hill post office could not have been better, as we reached out to folks on their way to drop off tax returns at the end of the day. Only an hour into the event, we had already distributed all 400 of our fliers! We took advantage of the Tax Day connection to tell people that we are happy to pay our taxes in support of public schools. And we invited folks to join us in asking Governor Corbett why he refuses to make all corporations pay their fair share.

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Just the day before, a Mock Bake Sale at the Munhall Volunteer Fire Hall gathered 639 signatures on a petition to the Governor seeking to reverse these devastating state budget cuts to public education. The event drew the superintendents of both the Steel Valley and West Mifflin Area School Districts, along with state Representative Bill Kortz (a Democrat from Dravosburg) and plenty of Republicans, including parent Ray Ross, who said he was upset about the cuts to school districts and how they are affecting teachers. “I wanted to put my 2 cents in,” he told the Tribune Review, Pittsburgh’s conservative newspaper, “I vote Republican and I’m still against all of this that’s going on.” [McKeesport Daily News / Tribune Review, 4-17-12]

And on Saturday, a Mock Bake Sale at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum on the Northside distributed hundreds of cookies and flyers in conjunction with the “WriteNow! Education Matters” student advocacy day. At that event we gathered over 200 letters and handmade signs supporting public education funding, which were sent to the Governor and state legislators.

These three Mock Bake Sales in Pittsburgh showed Yinzer Nation out in force for public schools and wrapped up a week of similar events across the state. In a coordinated effort through Education Voters PA, organizers in Harrisburg, Shippensburg, and Philadelphia have also tapped into the deep roots of a growing, statewide movement for public education. This is grassroots at its very best and we look good when our roots show!

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