Over 4,000 Rally for Free College and Public Schools

Boston Common was packed with public education supporters.

Over 4,000 students, teachers, and community activists stood up to resist the Trump agenda for education, demand the investment our public schools and colleges deserve, and envision a high-quality, debt-free future for students and young people in Massachusetts at the Rally for Public Education on May 20.

“We are here today to resist the plans and policies of Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Governor Charlie Baker. And that’s the key word — RESIST,” said Tyrék Lee, executive vice president of 1199SEIU and one of the event MCs.

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Boston Common was teeming with people holding rally signs like “Betsy DeVos should not be the boss” and “Free College Now” and thousands of other powerful statements in opposition to the billionaire agenda to privatize our public schools and colleges.


The Boston Globe: More than 4,000 rally on Boston Common to oppose education cuts (link)
CBS 4 Boston (WBZ): Hundreds Rally On The Common For Education Funding (link)
New Bedford Standard Times: Local contingent joins Boston rally for public education (link)
Bay State Banner: Thousands rally in Boston Common for Boston’s public schools (link)
Wicked Local Salem: Salem residents join education rally (link)
Framingham Source: School Committee member Hugo speaks to Rally for Public Education (link)

“Students should never leave a public college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt just to get the education they need to get ahead,” said Amy Blanchette, a PHENOM board member and student organizer at Bristol Community College who appeared on WBZ-TV.

“In the city where I live in Fall River, we’ve had eight drug overdoses in the span of an hour at least twice this past week,” Blanchette continued. “Fall River’s population is about 90 thousand people. If you think for one minute that this does not correlate with the inability of people to obtain a proper education you’re wrong.”

Hundreds of people signed up to become PHENOM members, and hundreds more grabbed a PHENOM sign, button, or sticker to show their support for public higher education.

“I see us paving the way for our students, but I also see our students leading the movement,” said Jahi Spaloss, a 19-year-old graduate of Boston Green Academy who organized the Boston Public Schools student walkout last year. “We didn’t get here today by sitting around and letting people do whatever they want. One of the basic human rights is that every human being has a right to an education.”

“Fighting today for this ideal of quality public education — no matter what your race is, your class, or your ZIP code — is so important,” said Jessica Tang, president-elect of the Boston Teachers Union.

“Here in Massachusetts, former Pioneer Institute director James Peyser is entrusted with the futures of our children and young adults. A man who, along with Governor Baker, helped create the grinding structural crisis of disinvestment and privatization, which UMass Boston and other public schools have long endured,” said Tom Goodkind, president of the Professional Staff Union at UMass Boston.

“It is Secretary Peyser, and I’m quoting explicitly, who calls for a market-driven educational system, stating that the walls constructed between public and private schools are ‘arbitary and increasingly irrelevant.’ But we who stand up today for public education are NOT increasingly irrelevant.

We are the guardians of our increasingly fragile democracy, the defenders of equality, and the only true representatives of current and future generation of working-class students of every race and ethnicity who will demand what the freed slaves demanded after the Civil War: free and universal public education.”