By Sigourney Gundy
Equity in Education Coalition
Every child deserves access to a great education, a safe environment, and supportive and caring adults in their lives. In Washington state, we can make that a reality in our communities by equitably funding our schools and the public services that children and families rely on. As the McCleary case makes headlines and dominates the education conversation this legislative session, community members and advocates from all across the state are coming together this February with the goal of urging the Legislature to fully fund education in addition to critical state services—not in place of.
The Equity Rally being held on February 20, 2017 at the State Capitol in Olympia aims to bring together the voices of a collective, concerned community to stand together on the capitol steps with one message: “Affordable housing, health care, reliable transportation, clean air and water, reliable food sources, and a robust economy create an environment in which students are ready and able to learn and reach their highest potential. We must not fund our education system by defunding other services!”
The idea for the Equity Rally began as a way for a few organizations to demonstrate a community-wide unity in the vision for funding fairness and has grown into a movement, challenging the way funding is allocated for services in Washington state.
While the organizations joining for the day may have differing mission statements, they all unite in the fact that all services are critical. Tony Lee, a key organizer of the Equity Rally, believes that the rally tells Washington legislators that the community as a collective values all services and that they will not meet the needs of children and families if these services are pitted against each other.
“From education to environment, from reproductive rights to health and human services, we must ensure all of our critical state services are fully funded and not at the expense of one another,” Lee said.
Student Celise Marci Owens will be participating in the rally on February 20 to represent and advocate for transgender rights and equity. Owens has experienced first-hand the harm done when state services are not working for the community and wants to see education funded without any necessary services affected.
Owens believes that everyone should get involved in the Equity Rally because everyone is affected by our state policies. By being knowledgeable advocates and speaking to legislators, Owens believes that positive changes can be made to the education system.
“Our decision makers need to be accountable for funding education and instituting a state budget that serves all interests and does not remove any vital services,” Owens said.
Events for the Equity Rally will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the Capitol steps on the morning of Monday, February 20, 2017 and will include a plenary, rally and chain action, linking arms from the temple of justice to the Capitol building symbolizing the alliance’s uni ed vision of justice in the Legislature. Transportation from various locations around Seattle and Washington state is available for any individuals interested in joining for the day.
Organizers of the Equity Rally aim to have 1,000 participants join in for the cause in Olympia. For more information and to get involved please contact info@ eec-wa.org or visit the rally’s official Facebook page: Equity Rally 2017.
The Equity in Education Coalition (EEC) was founded in August of 2012 out of a wide, deeply felt concern that the Washington State Supreme Court ruling, McCleary v State of Washington, would justify even deeper cuts to the state’s safety net, housing, healthcare, early learning and higher education. Today, the Equity In Education Coalition is Washington State’s largest coalition of stakeholders from communities of color and white allies who are striving to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for children of color through policy and advocacy work.