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Rally and resist!

UFT members join millions in historic demonstrations

Holding signs in the New York City crowd are Jessica Horn (left) of PS 157 in th Miller Photography

Holding signs in the New York City crowd are Jessica Horn (left) of PS 157 in the Bronx and Katrina Jencius of P 811, the Mickey Mantle School, in Manhattan.

The UFT is represented at the D.C. march. Michael Campbell

 The UFT is represented at the D.C. march.

Priyanka Katumuluwa, a teacher at MS 442 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, said many Deidre McFadyen

Priyanka Katumuluwa, a teacher at MS 442 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, said many Latino students at her school now fear they and their families will be deported.

“I’m here for my students,” said Linda Lawrence, a guidance counselor at Chelsea CTE HS. “When you have a president who has insulted just about every minority group, LGBT and women, we really have to stand up and say no!”

Lawrence was one of the thousands of UFT members among the 400,000 men and women who turned out for the Women’s March in New York City on Jan. 21. Another 200 dedicated UFT activists woke up in darkness to meet the union’s buses at 4 a.m. for the trip to Washington, D.C., joining 500,000 marchers there — double the number who attended the previous day’s inauguration.

All told, an estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million people joined the peaceful and inclusive demonstrations that day throughout the United States.

Maria Maravegias, an English teacher and chapter leader at Transit Tech HS in Brooklyn, said the Washington, D.C., march was “an empowering experience for me as a woman, teacher and unionist.”

As a teacher, she said, she was there to protest education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, who has no educational experience and is vehemently anti-union and pro-charter.” And as a union member, she said, “I fear losing collective-bargaining rights and the benefits we fought so hard for.”

Maravegias said that for her, the march was just the beginning. “We have to win back the House and Senate,” she said. “We need this work to continue.”

Nneka Njideka, a social worker and delegate at the Thomas Jefferson Educational Campus in Brooklyn who marched in New York, said she believed the situation demanded an urgent response. “I truly believe this is a state of emergency,” she said. “Everyone’s lives and livelihood are at stake here, and I want to be a part of proactive action for education, the country, the planet and families.”

Holding a handmade sign that said “I want my students to feel inspired, curious, loved, respected, but first they must feel safe and protected,” Priyanka Katumuluwa, a teacher at MS 442 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, said many Latino students came to school in tears on the morning after the election because they were afraid of being deported.

“I don’t know what to say to them when they ask, are we going to be OK?” Katumuluwa said. “For me, this rally means being able to stand up for my students when they can’t.”

The UFT banner is held aloft at the New York City march.Brian GibbonsThe UFT banner is held aloft at the New York City march. A message of support for public schools in New York City.Miller PhotographyA message of support for public schools in New York City.

The nomination of DeVos to lead the nation’s schools was the biggest concern of Ellen Gentilviso, a chapter leader at PS 110 in Manhattan. “Not only is she unqualified, but also her spearheading of privatization has been shown to be detrimental to education,” Gentilviso said. “Public education is the bedrock of our country and our democracy.”

Laurence Fitzpatrick, a teacher at PS 255 at PS 7 in Elmhurst in District 75, said he was dismayed by DeVos’ comments about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act at her Senate confirmation hearing.

“We need to honor our laws,” he said. “That is what Betsy DeVos refused to do at the hearing.”

Abbey Kornhauser of the HS of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn Miller PhotographyAbbey Kornhauser of the HS of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn knows who has the power. Nneka Njideka (left), a social worker at Thomas Jefferson HS Brooklyn, and MelisMiller PhotographyNneka Njideka (left), a social worker at Thomas Jefferson HS Brooklyn, and Melissa Woertendyke, a special ed teacher at PS 176 in the Bronx, stand by Trump World Tower.

Karen Barg, a substitute teacher, carried a sign that read, “Unfit, Uncouth, Unbelievable” in the New York City march. She said, “We teach our students to be respectful and not to be bullies, and now we have a president who is disrespectful of women, gays, immigrant communities.”

Carla Cherry, an English teacher at Innovation Diploma Plus HS in Manhattan, said she was upset that Trump planned to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I still remember the day my father was told by his insurance company he would not be covered because he had cancer,” she said. “Without Obamacare, my young adult son will not have health care.”

Trish Franzen, an English as a new language teacher at PS 861 on Staten Island, said she was awestruck by the size of the Washington, D.C., protest. “I’ve never been in a demonstration this large in my life,” Franzen said. “We are in a moment in history where people need to make their voices heard.”

See photos from both marches »

See a video of both marches »

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