By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Last week, the Alabama NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), SOS (Save Ourselves – Support Our Students), the Birmingham Bus Riders, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) held a rally at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, demanding that the Alabama Legislature expand Medicaid, raise the minimum wage to a Living Wage, and Proper Funding for Schools.
The coalition of generally politically left groups calling themselves, Moral Monday Alabama, said in a statement afterwards, “What an excellent day on the steps of the State House!! As soon as it struck 12 the rain come pouring down but it did not dampen our spirits!! We continued speaking truth to power…soon the clouds parted and the rain ceased but our voices did not! there were many excellent speakers representing so many organizations and communities. Thank you to everyone who came and supported and to those that participated. We look forward to our next event on Feb. 16th, mark your calendars!”
Leah Crowe told the crowd, “Don’t go the corporate way, go the right way” in regards to education. She said that Alabama ranks 44th in educational outcomes. Alabama’s school children is all of our children. I think that is what we don’t understand. Upper class and upper middle class parents just don’t deal with the problems in the Alabama school systems. They send their children to private schools or well funded suburban school systems.
“Either we are going to own the school children of Alabama or not.”
Crowe said that poor and working class families are never going to be represented through the elected body unless people in suburban areas demand that the schools receive proper funding. She said that we allow the legislature to raid the education trust fund every year. They steal to cover the General Fund. Everybody don’t want to pay taxes. “Are you also a citizen of the world?” Without properly funding the State General Fund (SGF) we wont be able to prevent more raids in the future and deliver a first class education. “Workers deserve a just minimum wage. That is on us to do.”
Joanne Shum, who is a candidate for the state school board in District 5 said, “I am here to speak for the children and the people who care about them. We are facing a crisis in education in Alabama. $66 million has been diverted from the education trust fund in the last two years. That money is going to private education. I can tell you right now they are going to keep doing it and it is going to get worse. Corporate groups are coming up with these corporate plans for our state. Since 2008 Oklahoma is the only state who has cut education more that Alabama. The time is now if we need to work to get those bad bills like the accountability act and the charter schools bill overturned. We may need to get a new group of legislators to do that.”
Montgomery City Councilman David M. Burkette said, “I am here on behalf of all citizens of the State of Alabama.” The councilman urged the legislature and the council to raise the minimum wage. “I represent District 4 in West Montgomery. A long-time impoverished area of Montgomery. I represent 22,000 people n my district. Two thirds of them who are working in my district are making $8 or less. I don’t know how many lives have been lost because they would not give up their tennis shoes. Get the minimum wage up to at least $10 an hour. The State house has failed. Birmingham passed it. If Birmingham can do it we in Montgomery can do it.”
The Finance Director at Children’s Hospital Doug Hoffman said that UAB raised their minimum wage to $11 an hour. They are showing some leadership. They know that the minimum wage is less than it was in 1968 when adjusted for inflation. Wages are going nowhere. Corporations are sending our manufacturing to China. 30 cities have raised their minimum wage to $10 an hour. Polls show that 70 percent of Alabamians support it and 50 percent of Republicans support it. It is good for business and good for local economies.