We have a new smash hit on our hands. Outraged over the Pittsburgh Opera’s decision to honor the Governor with a lifetime achievement award for his “support” of arts education, over 350 people gathered Saturday for an “Operatic Rally.” As gala attendees arrived in fancy cars and even fancier gowns for the $750 per plate event, the crowd of parents, students, teachers, and community members made it clear that Gov. Corbett has actually gutted arts education with his cuts to our public schools.
It was popular theater at its best with singing (opera tunes, of course), chanting, costumes, and many student musicians, including the Pittsburgh Westinghouse marching band. Critics gave the Rally a big thumbs up and we had full press coverage, including:
- the Post-Gazette
- the Tribune Review
- KDKA TV
- video on Post-Gazette site
- another original Huffington Post article, “Let Them Eat Opera”
- a fabulous Rob Rogers political cartoon in the Post-Gazette this morning
This has been an amazing opportunity to spread the word about the real connection between state budget cuts and what is happening in our public schools. Together we have pushed this story onto the national stage and created a viral firestorm in social media. But now it’s time for our encore.
We can’t let this momentum die. The public is paying attention. The press is paying attention. And we’ve got about four weeks until our state legislators quit negotiating on the budget. Right now they are considering slashing public education by “only” $50 MILLION, instead of Corbett’s proposed $100 MILLION. Some are calling that a “restoration” of fifty million. I would say we are still short about one billion from last year.
So here’s how we are going to tell our legislators that they simply must find adequate, equitable, and sustainable state funding for public education. Next Tuesday, May 22nd, we are joining the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) for a bus trip to Harrisburg. We will be speaking directly with legislators and will be back by dinnertime. If you can attend, please contact Kathy Newman (Knewman4@gmail.com). And Wednesday, May 23rd, is the next state-wide call-your-legislator day. We will all be calling our representatives and asking our networks to do the same.
Let’s make next week our encore performance!