Nearly 2,500 people rallied for public education on Thursday evening at the fitness center at Hofstra University.
Teachers, parents, grandparents, students and politicians spoke out against a proposed $1.5 billion cut to public schools and a 2 percent property-tax cap, which limits the amount a local government can increase property taxes to pay for school programs and district salaries.
They're likely to get their way on the property tax cap - at least temporarily - as Republicans said the cap would likely not take effect this year.
The protesters pushed for the millionaires tax, a tax that is designed to hit New York’s top earners and expires Dec. 31, arguing it could raise $5 billion for classrooms.
Organizers stood by the entrance to the gym, collecting email addresses and distributing literature.
Among them was Elaine Berman, a Port Washington resident and a retired educator.
She said she hoped politicians would “start to listen,” adding, “I don’t want the kids to lose.”
Karen Rosenthal, who attended Port Washington schools, taught there before teaching and residing in Syosset. Now, she’s retired, living in Plainview. Looking at the supporters entering the complex, she said, “I hope everyone, as well as politicians, begin to understand how important it is to stand behind education.” Rosenthal worried that if educators aren’t supported now, “nobody will want to go into teaching.”
Deborah LoSardo teaches in West Babylon but lives in North Babylon. Sitting next to her were her twin daughters, who are in first grade.
“We need to fight for their rights, and our rights as educators,” she said.
Esther Kramer teaches in Farmingdale.
“The 2 percent tax cap is ridiculous,” Kramer said. “Let the districts decide what we need.”
Elected officials and teachers union leaders who supported the protesters' cause were also in Hempstead.
“A tax cap will hurt the schools if the main issues are not addressed,” said Cynthia Di Miceli, a West Hempstead Board of Education member. “Addressing the main cost drivers within a school district would be a better strategy.”
Added Andy Pallotta, executive vice president of the New York State United Teachers, "The governor talks about a knowledge-based economy. You can't cut the schools at its knees and expect a knowledge-based economy in New York State.”