The New York State United Teachers Southwest Regional and the Olean Teachers Association holds an annual march and rally on this Martin Luther King Day. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says this year's event will highlight the hardships of wage inequality and struggling public schools.
"We really want to Dr. King's legacy. It's civil disobedience and promote and support economic justice," said Eric Talbot, 2nd Grade Teacher at Cuba-Rushford Central Schools.
At Monday's march participants will be asking for full funding for public education and support of an increase in the state's minimum wage.
Talbot said they will begin at 11 a.m. at Olean High School and march to the offices of State Senator Catherine Young and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio. "And they both plan on address the crowd at their office," noted Talbot.
WBFO asked Talbot if he believed any of the funding proposals in the Governor's State of the State and budget message seemed promising for educators.
"What the Governor proposed and what the Board of Regents had asked for are actually two different numbers," noted Talbot. "I know the battle ahead between the Senate and Assembly, along with the Governor as they sort out the budget process, but hopefully along the way they will get a lot closer to what the Board of Regents had recommended for funding for education."
The march concludes at Lincoln Park and Union and East State Streets and the rally begins. It will feature speakers from the Coalition for Economic Justice, Episcopal Church and NYSUT.
Talbot tells WBFO News he hopes his message reaches Governor Cuomo. "Our school has faced a shortage in funding with the GEA and because of that, we've lost many teachers, different subject areas have suffered like libraries, arts and music, those subjects you would love to have your students be a part, but schools are short on funding," explained Talbot.
"What is your message to Governor Cuomo from Olean, NY as a teacher on the front lines?," asked Buckley. "Please continue to listen to the Board of Regents and to what many in the Assembly and Senate would have to say -- that our schools need more funding," replied Talbot.
Talbot expects teachers, parents and students along with community members to join their activism effort.